Cordillera attorney says he’s ready to talk
EDWARDS, Colorado – The Cordillera golf club’s cash flow problems led to bankruptcy, and the problem is that cash isn’t flowing from the membership, says Cordillera’s bankruptcy attorney.
Cordillera Club owner David Wilhelm declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week in Delaware, where the company is chartered.
Attorney Chris Celentino is handling Wilhelm’s bankruptcy, and says it’s time for peace in the valley.
“I don’t think it’s that complicated,” Celentino said. “Most people want the fight to end and are surprised it has carried on this long. My perspective is that there is a small group with a great deal of animus. The larger group just wants this to cease so they can get back to playing golf.”
Celentino offered to talk to any Cordillera Club member.
“The bulk of them will appreciate a professionally run operation, especially with the investments they have in the community,” Celentino said. “The goal is to bring transparency to the process. If we had something to hide we wouldn’t be in bankruptcy court.”
Former members still golfing
Many members haven’t missed much golf this summer, said former Cordillera member Mort Mulliken, who now has a season pass at Eagle Ranch in Eagle.
There are least 110 former Cordillera members at Eagle Ranch, Mulliken said.
Others have joined Arrowhead’s Country Club of the Rockies, the Sonnenalp Golf Club, or Red Sky Ranch, he said.
“Some of those people aren’t going to come back when we get this resolved,” Mulliken. “This valley is not lacking great golf courses to play.”
“I’ve played 30 times this year and I haven’t been arrested once,” Mulliken said.
Mulliken, you might recall, was ticketed on the ninth hole of Cordillera’s Valley Course, the only one of Cordillera’s four golf courses Wilhelm opened the last two summers.
Wilhelm had suspended Mulliken for asking for 75 percent of his dues money back, money he said he never received. Mulliken reasoned that he’d paid his dues and had some golf coming.
Sheriff’s deputies arrived in a golf cart, catching up with Mulliken on the ninth green.
The deputy who wrote the ticket agreed that wrapping Mulliken in the long arm of the law could wait until Mulliken sank a six-foot birdie putt, which he did, leaving him two under after nine.
Mulliken was ticketed for trespassing. The district attorney’s office later dismissed the case.
Contempt case continues
The Delaware bankruptcy judge handling the case rejected a request to postpone a contempt of court hearing set for July 20 in Eagle County.
Wilhelm’s attorneys argued that everything was so intertwined the contempt of courts case against Wilhelm should be stayed. Judge Christopher S. Sontchi disagreed, and Wilhelm’s contempt of court hearing will go on as scheduled before District Court Judge Fred Gannett.
Gannett granted a temporary restraining order last winter forcing Wilhelm to use all the Cordillera dues money for running the Valley Course.
Buyers and sellers
Wilhelm owes Alpine Bank $12.7 million on a loan he took in 2009 when he acquired Cordillera from Felix Posen, following litigation that started in 2004.
Celentine said Wilhelm did not use members’ dues money to make the deal, as some have alleged.
“Two audits done showed that it’s not true,” Celentino said.
Wilhelm was a minority partner in the Cordillera when Posen tried to sell it for less than Wilhelm thought it was worth, and without Wilhelm’s consent, Celentino said.
They landed in court in 2004 and finished in 2009 when an arbitrator awarded Cordillera to Wilhelm, Celentino said.
Wilhelm offered to buy it from the other partners, but was “rebuffed,” Celentino said.
He has also offered to sell it, Celentino said.
“David has always been willing to sell it for a reasonable price,” Celentino said.
They’re bringing in a “significant” investor and the new cash will help put Cordillera’s financial house in order, Celentino said.
The Wilhelms and some Cordillera Club members have been locked in litigation for more than a year.
For the second year in a row, Cordillera’s Valley course is the only one of the four Cordillera golf courses open.
In a letter last spring to Club members, Wilhelm promised to open all four golf courses, but opened only the Valley Course and laid off dozens of workers. Meanwhile, Wilhelm paid himself and the Wilhelm Family Partnership almost $1 million, court documents show.
A day later, Wilhelm sued some Club members for $96 million, claiming they were trying to drive him out so they could take over.
Some of the members sued him in a class action lawsuit, saying he violated the membership agreement. If they win, it could cost Wilhelm up to $108 million.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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