PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Last December, Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Charlie Batch filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
That triggered a series of legal actions both to protect Batch and those to whom he owes money.
The mountain of court documents tells the story of a wealthy man who got very financially over-extended.
And that risks some of his most valuable personal assets.
When Batch found his debts had outstripped his assets by $6 million, he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
“You file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and everybody has to stop,” says bankruptcy attorney Michael Shiner, chair of the Allegheny County Bar Association’s bankruptcy section. “Nobody can sue you any more. Nobody can take anything away from you.”
Shiner says this could help Batch because so much of his debt is unsecured — that is, not backed up by collateral.
“Most of his unsecured creditors are not going to get much, if anything,” he said.
Those include many local banks and real estate investors, including teammate Max Starks, who invested in Batch’s business ventures in this area and Detroit.
But Batch is not out of the woods.
Last week, a bankruptcy court order allowed one secured creditor — Primerock — to pursue Batch’s assets to pay off $800,000.
Among those assets are two Super Bowl rings, along with jerseys autographed by Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward, Super Bowl pictures autographed by teammates and 11 game balls.
But nobody thinks these assets will be seized.
“It’s not going to happen,” says Shiner. “There’s going to be a deal here.”
Doug Campbell, Batch’s attorney, told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano by phone, “We are working out terms with Primerock and Charlie Batch will be just fine.”
Whatever Charlie Batch’s financial problems, he’s a man who has never forgotten his friends or hometown, having invested substantially in the community of Homestead.
From his appearances in local schools to his efforts to restore old buildings to his popular basketball camp, Homestead Mayor Betty Esper says Batch is a good role model for the community.
“He’s just a good, clean guy. He dresses neat. You never see him, you never hear about him in bars or anything undesirable,” says Esper.
While it’s likely that Batch will lose most of his business assets in Homestead and Detroit, his attorney tells Jon Delano, “The worst is over.”
He expects to cut a deal with Primerock that would allow the well-liked Steelers quarterback to save his sports memorabilia.
Primerock’s attorney, Jim McLean, tells Jon, “Primerock is not going to seize Charlie Batch’s Super Bowl rings. Our intent is to work things out with him.”