Kelley v. Capital Strategies Fund Ltd.
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order Signed by the Honorable John J. Tharp, Jr on 9/8/2021: Mailed notice(air, )
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
Douglas A. Kelley, in his capacity as the
PCI Liquidating Trustee of the PCI
Capital Strategies Fund Ltd. n/k/a
Barrington Capital Group Limited,
Judge John J. Tharp, Jr.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This action is brought by Douglas Kelley, the Trustee for victims of the Petters Ponzi
scheme, to enforce a judgment against Capital Strategies Fund, Ltd. (“the Fund” or “the Judgment
Debtor”), one of the entities that invested in the scheme and withdrew profits before its collapse.
The Trustee seeks a judgment against the Fund’s former director, Steven G. Stevanovich. claiming
that he embezzled nearly two million dollars from the Fund and spent it on fine wine and spirits,
and is thus indebted to the Judgment Debtor, and, by extension, the victims of the scheme, who
have a claim on the assets of the Fund. For the reasons discussed below, the Court agrees and
orders Stevanovich to return $1,948,670.79 to reduce the outstanding judgment against the Fund.
This action for turnover is but one ripple from the tsunami of litigation that has followed
in the wake of the Petters Ponzi scheme. On October 6, 2008, Judge Montgomery of the District
of Minnesota appointed Douglas A. Kelly (the “Trustee”) over Petters Group, Inc., one of the
entities employed to perpetrate the Ponzi scheme.1 The Trustee represents the interests of the
Declaration of Sarah Reidl, Ex A., Notice of Hearing and Motion to Approve the
Settlement Entered into by and Among Douglas A. Kelley, as the Chapter 11 Trustee, and Certain
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victims of Mr. Petters’ $40 billion scheme. Turnover Mot. 1. ECF No. 31. In connection with his
duties, the Trustee pursued the Judgment Debtor in adversary proceedings before the United States
Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota to recover the profits that the Judgment Debtor
reaped from the Petters Ponzi scheme. Id. at 4. The Judgment Debtor did not appear in that
proceeding, so the Bankruptcy Court entered its default on October 25, 2012. Id. On April 7, 2015
the bankruptcy court granted the Trustee’s motion for default judgment, entering judgment the
same day. See ECF No. 1.
On December 1, 2018, the Trustee registered that judgment in the Northern District of
Illinois, see ECF Nos. 1-2. He then commenced this supplementary proceeding against
Stevanovich by serving him with a Citation to Discover Assets according to the procedure
prescribed by Illinois law, 735 ILCS 5/2-1402(a), which governs the execution of this judgment
in this federal court. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 69(a)(1). The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over
this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.2
The Trustee contends that, between 2006 and 2008, Stevanovich used $1,948,670.79 of the
Judgment Debtor’s funds to buy high-end wine and spirits and have them shipped out of the
country to his residence in Switzerland. Stevanovich argues in response that the Judgment Debtor
Defendants in the Adversary Proceeding Captioned Kelley v. Westford Special Situations Master
Fund, L.P. et al at 2-3, October 2, 2014, ECF No. 48-3.
The Court had its doubts regarding its subject matter jurisdiction over this supplementary
proceeding and elicited briefing from the parties on this front. ECF No. 64. The Trustee filed a
statement clarifying that the Court has diversity jurisdiction. Jurisdictional Statement, ECF No.
65. Mr. Stevanovich is a citizen of Illinois, as demonstrated by his counsel’s statement in a June
18, 2019 hearing: “Mr. Stevanovich is not going anywhere. He lives in Chicago. He’s got children
who live in Chicago… He’s not leaving the state let alone the country.” Jurisdictional Statement
at 9. The Trustee was domiciled in Minnesota at the time this action was filed. Id. at 6; RTP LLC
v. ORIX Real Estate Capital, Inc., 827 F.3d 689, 691 (7th Cir. 2016) (“When the trustee sues . . .
the trustee’s citizenship matters.”). The amount in controversy far exceeds $75,000. Stevanovich
did not respond to this jurisdictional inquiry despite having received an extension to file his
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has not met his burden under Illinois law to demonstrate that he is indebted to the Judgment Debtor
under a theory of embezzlement. In support, he points to a byzantine chain of transfers and the
eventual sale of the wine at auction, which he argues absolves him of liability here.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 69(a) provides that the post-judgment procedure on
execution is governed by “the procedure of the state where the court is located.” In Illinois, such
procedures are governed by 735 ILCS 5/2-1402. See Dexia Credit Local v. Rogan, 629 F.3d 612,
622 (7th Cir. 2010). This statute provides that judgment creditors are “entitled to prosecute
citations to discover assets for the purposes of examining the judgment debtor or any other person
to discover assets or income of the debtor[.]” 735 ILCS 5/2-1402(a). Courts can compel third
parties who are indebted to the judgment debtor “to deliver up any assets so discovered,” including
in instances when a judgment debtor’s assets “are held under such circumstances that in an action
by the judgment debtor he or she could recover them in specie or obtain a judgment for the
proceeds or value thereof as for conversion or embezzlement.” ILCS 5/2-1402(c)(3). There is no
requirement that the funds were moved to defeat transfer or that the assets remain in the thirdparty’s possession; the relevant inquiry is whether the third party is indebted to the judgment
creditor. Bentley v. Glenn Shipley Enterprises, 248 Ill. App. 3d 647, 653 (1993). If so, then the
judgment creditor may recover “as if in the shoes of” the judgment debtor. Id; see also West Ben
Mut. Ins. Co. V. Belmont State Corp., 2010 WL 3700834 *5 (N.D. Ill. 2010). The judgment creditor
has the burden of showing that the citation respondent has assets of the judgment debtor. Kauffman
v. Wrenn, 2015 IL App (2d) 150285 ¶ 26 (2015).3
The Court has found no authority establishing the standard of proof that applies in a
supplemental proceeding under 5/2-1402(c)(6). Stevanovich contends (Response at 11) that the
clear and convincing evidence standard applies, but the criminal case cited has nothing whatsoever
to do with the applicable standard of proof in a supplemental turnover proceeding under Illinois
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First, the Court rejects Stevanovich’s arguments that the underlying judgment is
unenforceable and this proceeding is untimely. Next, the Court addresses the parties’ accounts of
the events, and the evidence supporting those accounts, and finds the Trustee has carried his burden
to show that Stevanovich is indebted to the judgment debtor on a theory of embezzlement.
Enforceability of the Default Judgment Entered Against Capital Strategies Fund,
Stevanovich argues that the Trustee cannot pursue supplementary proceedings against him
because the default judgment entered against Capital Strategies Fund, Ltd. is not a final and
enforceable judgment. Under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(a), which Stevanovich says governs
the enforceability of the Bankruptcy Court’s judgment for the purposes of supplementary
proceedings, a judgment as to fewer than all claims or parties must contain an express finding that
“there is no just reason for delaying either enforcement or appeal or both.” 155 Ill.2d R. 304(a).
Though the order directing entry of default judgment does contain such an express finding, Lavine
Decl., Ex 8, ECF No. 33-1, the default judgment itself does not, ECF No. 1, prompting Stevanovich
to assert that the judgment is therefore unenforceable and that the Motion for Turnover must be
The Trustee responds that the relevant procedural rule here is Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 54(b), not Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(a). Rule 54(b) provides that “when multiple
parties are involved, the court may direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more, but fewer
than all… parties… if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay.” The
law. Stevanovich’s citation to the case as support for its claim about the standard of proof is
inexplicable. In the absence of any authority to the contrary, the Court concludes that the standard
of proof applicable in any state law claim for conversion would apply—namely, preponderance of
the evidence. See Bill Marek’s The Competitive Edge, Inc. v. Mickelson Group, Inc., 806 N.E.2d.
280, 286 (Ill. App. 2d. Dist. 2004).
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Trustee directs the Court to Seventh Circuit cases arising in this statutory context where courts
applied Rule 54(b) instead of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(a). See Dexia, 629 F.3d at 618
(applying Rule 54(b) to find that the District Court presiding over supplementary proceedings had
rendered a non-final default judgment final as to the Rogan defendants because it dismissed the
remaining defendants due to lack of complete diversity); Central Laborers’ Pension Fund v. AEH
Contsr., Inc., 2015 WL 5462139 (finding that nunc pro tunc Rule 54(b) certification retroactively
made a nonfinal order final.) And the Trustee says that the requirements of Rule 54(b) are satisfied
by the Bankruptcy Court’s finding in its Order Granting Trustee’s Application for Entry of Default
that “there is no just reason for delay of the entry of judgment against the Defendant Capital
Strategies Fund, Ltd., n/k/a Barrington Capital Group Ltd. as its default does not implicate the
possibility of a piecemeal appeal.” ECF No. 33-1, Ex 8.
The Court agrees that Federal Rule 54(b) governs the enforceability of the Bankruptcy
Court’s judgment in federal District Court. Stevanovich’s argument amounts to this: the judgment
itself, rather than the order directing entry of judgment, did not contain the express finding and is
unenforceable. Nothing in Rule 54(b) requires that the magic words appear in the judgment itself;
the Rule provides that “the court may direct entry of final judgment… only if the court expressly
determines that there is no just reason for delay.” The Bankruptcy Court made such an express
finding here, so the judgment is final and enforceable. And even if Illinois Supreme Court Rule
304(a) applied here, that rule also requires only a “an express written finding that there is no just
reason for delaying either enforcement or appeal or both.” ILCS S. Ct. Rule 304(a). The rule also
says that the “entry of the required finding shall be treated as the date of the entry of final
judgment,” suggesting that the key requirement here is the finding of enforceability, not whether
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it appears in a judgment as opposed to an order directing entry of judgment. As such, the Court
finds that the default judgment issued by the Bankruptcy Court is final and enforceable.
Statute of Limitations
Next, Stevanovich argues that the Trustee’s supplementary action is not timely. First, he
argues that this action is outside the scope of a supplementary proceeding because the Trustee
seeks a determination that Stevanovich is personally liable for embezzlement. As such, he contends
that the five-year statute of limitations for fraud applies rather than the seven-year statute of
limitations for supplementary proceedings. According to Stevanovich, any embezzlement claim
accrued between April 26, 2006 and July 23, 2008, when he purchased the wine, and thus expired
between 2011 and 2013, before the Trustee secured the default judgment in the bankruptcy court.
Resp. 12, ECF No. 48.
To make his argument that this is an action outside the permissible scope of supplementary
proceedings, Stevanovich clings to language in the Seventh Circuit’s opinion in Dexia, where the
Court of Appeals explained: “As long as the action seeks the judgment debtor’s assets and does
not concern personal liability, it falls within the scope of a supplemental proceeding.” Dexia, 629
F.3d at 624. According to Stevanovich, the Trustee is attempting hold Stevanovich “personally
liable” for embezzlement, placing this proceeding outside the scope of a supplementary
Stevanovich’s argument that this is an impermissible attempt to impose personal liability
confuses the relevant question. The relevant inquiry is whether an action brought in supplementary
proceedings “concerns the assets of the judgment debtor.” Kennedy v. Four Boys Labor Service,
Inc., 664 N.E.2d 1088, 1092-93 (Ill. App. 2d Dist. 1996). The court in Kennedy held that an action
brought in supplementary proceedings pursuant to Illinois’ Fraudulent Transfer Act was proper
because it “attempts to avoid the transfer and seeks the actual assets transferred.” Id. at 369. So
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too here. Conversely, the court rejected the plaintiff’s attempt to recover from the third party under
the Business Corporation Act because that action would “hold a corporate director personally
liable for damage sustained by a creditor and is not concerned with the actual assets of the
judgment debtor.” Id. at 366. That is not the case here: The Trustee’s claims concerns the assets of
the judgment debtor and is not an attempt to impose “personal liability independent of the debtor’s
The Illinois statute governing supplementary proceeding indicates that this action is
securely within the scope of supplementary proceedings: it allows a court to “compel any person
cited, other than the judgment debtor, to deliver up any assets” which the judgment debtor “could
recover… as for conversion or embezzlement.” 735 ILCS §§ 5/2-1402(c)(1)-(6). The statute thus
provides that the Trustee’s effort to recover from Stevanovich is within the scope of supplementary
Moreover, the Seventh Circuit has rejected application of the same statute of limitations
that Stevanovich urges here, 735 ILCS 5/13-205. See Dexia, 629 F.3d at 627. That statute provides:
Except as provided in Section 2–725 of the “Uniform Commercial Code”,
approved July 31, 1961, as amended, and Section 11–13 of “The Illinois Public
Aid Code”, approved April 11, 1967, as amended, actions on unwritten
contracts, expressed or implied, or on awards of arbitration, or to recover
damages for an injury done to property, real or personal, or to recover the
possession of personal property or damages for the detention or conversion
thereof, and all civil actions not otherwise provided for, shall be commenced
within 5 years next after the cause of action accrued.
The Court in Dexia held that an action for constructive trust in supplementary proceedings
is not subject to this five-year statute of limitations because the action was “otherwise provided
for” by statute. Id. The proceedings in Dexia, like here, “were initiated to enforce and satisfy a
previously-obtained money judgment. Thus, the statute specifically governing such proceedings
determines the rights and liabilities of the parties,” namely 735 ILCS 5/12-108(a) and its seven-
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year statute of limitations.4 Accordingly, this action is timely, as the limitations period does not
expire until April 7, 2022 (seven years following entry of the bankruptcy court judgment).
Stevanovich’s Indebtedness to the Judgment Debtor on a Theory of Embezzlement
Under Illinois law, embezzlement consists of 1) a special relationship with the victim, 2)
conversion of property to the embezzler’s own use, and 3) an intent to embezzle. See Omni-Star
Expo Ltd. v. Chrobak, 2019 IL App (2d) 170759-U *7 (2018); People v. Curoe, 97 Ill. App. 3d
258, 273 (1981) (“Embezzlement consists of the accused’s conversion of another’s funds in his
possession in a fiduciary capacity, and the crime is complete when there is a fraudulent conversion
without the owner’s consent.”). The intent to embezzle “is necessarily inferred from the voluntary
commission of an act, the inevitable effect of which is to deprive the true owner of the property
and appropriate it to the defendant’s own use.” Id. at 274.
The first element is satisfied by Stevanovich’s status as the sole director of Capital
Strategies Fund, Ltd. During the time he made the wine purchases, Stevanovich was Capital
Strategies Fund, Ltd’s sole director and was an authorized signatory for its Credit Suisse account.
Lavine Decl., Ex. 1 at 181:20-182:18, ECF No. 33-1.
As for the second and third elements, the Trustee adduced evidence showing that, between
April 2006 and July 2008, Stevanovich placed orders with Richard Klein, a principal of R&A
Vintners. See Lavine Decl., Ex. 9 ¶¶ 2-4. Mr. Klein declares that he sold wine and spirits to
Stevanovich relies on one case in support of his argument that a different statute of
limitations should apply. In John Isfan Const., Inc. v. Longwood Towers, LLC, 2016 IL App (1st)
143211,the appellate Court, in reciting the procedural history of the case before it, noted that one
trial court judge had applied the statute of limitations for unlawful distributions in a supplementary
proceeding. Id. at ¶ 28. Plaintiff says that this “holding was not disturbed on appeal,” Mot. to
Dismiss 11, but that trial court order was not under review in Ifsan—the appellate court was
reviewing a later order, in a different proceeding, to vacate default judgment. Plaintiff’s only
authority for applying a different statute of limitations is thus nothing more than an echo, without
any reasoning or explanation, of a trial court’s decision to do so.
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Stevanovich, that Mr. Stevanovich personally placed the orders, and that he sent Stevanovich the
invoices. Id. at ¶¶ 3-4. Further demonstrating that the wine was for Stevanovich’s personal use,
the vintner states that “[t]he wine and spirits were shipped by third party vendors to Mr.
Stevanovich’s home in Switzerland.” Id. The payment for those invoices, however, did not come
from Mr. Stevanovich, but rather from Capital Strategies Fund’s Credit Suisse account. Turnover
Mot. at 7, ECF No. 31 (summarizing bank records contained in Lavine Decl., Ex. 11 1-10, ECF
No. 33-1.) This is competent evidence of embezzlement, see Sullivan v. Ross Mechanical, Inc.,
2012 WL 2254203, *3-4 (N.D. Ill. 1996), and Stevanovich disputes none of these facts.
Instead, in his response brief and accompanying declaration, Stevanovich describes a series
of transactions that he says demonstrates he is not indebted to the Judgment Debtor.5 Stevanovich
Decl., Ex. 1 to Resp. to Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 48-1. Stevanovich states he bought the wine at
the direction of Capital Strategies Fund, Ltd.’s “sole investor,” a relative of his wife’s, as an
investment strategy.6 Stevanovich then arranged to have the wine stored in “a dedicated area within
[his own] wine cellar,” Stevanovich Decl. at ¶ 11, “[i]n an attempt to secure maximum profitability
for the investments and avoid additional expenses.” Resp. at 4. In July 2009, in response to changed
SEC regulations, Capital Strategies Fund began a liquidation process in order to move its domicile
to the Cayman Islands. Stevanovich Decl. at ¶ 16. By the end of 2009, Stevanovich says, Capital
Stevanovich expends too much energy arguing that Illinois law requires him to have the
assets in his possession for turnover to be proper. That is wrong. Bentley, 248 Ill App. 3d at 652
(recognizing that a judgment creditor can recover funds from third parties even though the third
parties “never had physical possession” of misappropriated funds.”) The question is not where the
assets are currently held, but whether the third party is indebted to the judgment debtor.
Without seeking the Court’s leave, Stevanovich filed a sur-reply. ECF No. 54. In that surreply, he clarifies that the mysterious character referred to as the “sole investor” throughout his
response brief is, in fact, one of his wife’s relatives. See Defendant’s Reply Brief 7, ECF No. 54;
Lavine Decl., Ex 1 147:4-20 (identifying the sole investor as “the Emami Family;” elsewhere in
the deposition, Lavine Decl, Ex. 1 51:11-51:14, he identifies Amir Emami as his brother-in-law
and Masoud Emami, 55:1-6, as Amir’s cousin).
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Strategies Fund, Ltd. had transferred all interest in the wine and spirits to an entity called TGG
Capital Ltd., again on behalf of the sole investor “as a redemption.” Id. ¶ 17. All of Capital
Strategies Fund, Ltd.’s other assets were transferred to Capital Strategies Global Fund, L.P. ¶ 18.
Capital Strategies Fund, Ltd. changed its name to Barrington Capital Group Ltd. and was
liquidated in 2011. ¶ 20. In 2012, some three years after Capital Strategies Fund, Ltd. had
transferred the interest in wine to the sole investor, this investor arranged for the sale of the wine
and spirits at auction through Christie’s. ¶ 23. The funds were received in escrow in several stages
by Columbia Corporate Services, Inc. and were transferred to an entity called “Butterfield” on
account for TGG Capital, Ltd. ¶¶ 24-26.
There are several problems with Stevanovich’s story. As an initial matter, the tale is
internally inconsistent; Stevanovich fails to explain why, if the Fund transferred all interest in the
wine to TGG Capital in 2009, Stevanovich was receiving documentation and communications
regarding the disposition of the wine and the transfer of the proceeds from the sale of the wine at
Chrsitie’s three years later.
More significantly, Stevanovich’s detailed account in this proceeding stands in stark
contrast to Stevanovich’s professed ignorance of the same events in prior deposition testimony
during the adversary proceeding before the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of
Q: Are you familiar with an entity R&A Vintners?
Stevanovich: What is it?
Q: R&A Vintners?
Stevanovich: It doesn’t come to mind.
Q: Do you know if that’s a wine selling establishment?
Stevanovich: I don’t. I don't recall that name. Vintner sounds like
something to do with wine.
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Declaration of Adam Levine, dated July 2, 2019 (“July 2019 Lavine Decl.”), Ex. 1 at 182:25183:7. When counsel for the Trustee showed Stevanovich bank statements detailing payments by
Capital Strategies Fund to R&A Vintners, Stevanovich continued to disclaim knowledge:
Q: So do you remember why Capital Strategies would
be paying RA Vintners $75,991.97?
Stevanovich: I don’t.
Q: Is that in any way related to the statements from Mr. Mouttet
about you purchasing wine for him?
Stevanovich: I didn’t purchase wine with Capital Strategies.
I used my own personal money
Q: There’s an entry on March 23, 2007.
Stevanovich: I see.
Q: It shows a payment again to RA Vintners for $497,801.79; correct?
Stevanovich: I see it.
Q: Does that refresh your recollection about payments to R&A Vintners?
July 2019 Lavine Decl., Ex. 1 at 184:1-17. In light of this prior sworn testimony disclaiming any
recollection, the Trustee contends that the Court should entirely disregard the detailed story
Stevanovich tells now. And indeed, the Seventh Circuit has long held, in reviewing summary
judgment rulings, that “affidavits in conflict with prior sworn testimony should be disregarded.”
Kalis v. Colgate-Palmolive Co., 231 F.3d 1049, 1056 (7th Cir. 2000); see also Unterreiner v.
Volkswagen of America, Inc., 8 F.3d 1206, 1210 (7th Cir. 1993), overruled on other grounds by
Hill v. Tangherlini, 724 F.3d 965 (7th Cir. 2013) (“A party cannot claim a lack of general
knowledge about a subject and later make a statement which requires detailed knowledge about
the same subject.”). Although this turnover motion is not a summary judgment motion and this
proceeding is distinct from the adversary proceeding in which Stevanovich professed no memory
of buying wine on behalf of the Judgment Debtor, the force of the point is not diminished: “A party
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may not create a dispute of fact by contradicting his own earlier statements, at least without a
plausible explanation for the sudden change of heart.” Richardson v. Bonds, 860 F.3d 1427, 1433
(7th Cir. 1988).
Stevanovich offers no explanation, much less a plausible one, for the contradictions
between his sworn testimony in the adversary proceeding denying memory of any transactions
involving the purchase of wine by the Fund (“I didn’t purchase wine with Capital Strategies. I used
my own personal money”) and his subsequent declaration detailing the Fund’s investment in and
disposition of almost $2 million dollars in fine wine. Omission of his dealings with R&A Vintners
was certainly not likely to have been a function of merely faulty recollection. Consider the Capital
Strategies Fund Ltd.’s Offering Memorandum. That document, while providing that it does “not
restrict the type of investments the fund may make,” describes the Fund’s investment’s focus on
underperforming companies along with various types of debt and securities. Lavine Decl., Ex. 2
at 4, 7-9. The Memorandum does not list physical assets as an investment focus, much less fine
Bordeaux. As the Trustee argues, it is unlikely that Stevanovich’s memory would fail as to such a
departure from the Fund’s standard investment practices. This is all the more so given
Stevanovich’s current claim that the true buyer of the wine was the Fund’s sole investor and the
facts that Stevanovich does not dispute about his personal involvement in the purchase of the wine:
he personally placed the orders with R&A Vintners, paid for it with the Fund’s money, and shipped
it to his home where he stored it in a dedicated area within his own wine cellar. All this is also to
say nothing of Stevanovich’s implausible claim that he served as an uncompensated bailee
responsible for maintaining delicate and fragile assets valued at almost $2 million in order to hold
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The Court is inclined to agree that Stevanovich cannot create a factual dispute by suddenly
remembering the details of the wine purchases and transfers. However, given the distinct
procedural posture in this case (this is a motion for turnover, not one for summary judgment) the
Court will not entirely disregard Stevanovich’s affidavit, but will consider this inconsistency as
one factor alongside others that indicate it should be given negligible weight.
The bigger problem with Stevanovich’s yarn is that he barely attempts to support it with
documentary evidence. The documents he provides only relate to a small portion of his tale, and
they serve only to further undermine his account. He provides escrow statements which only
demonstrate that approximately $1.9 million dollars were transferred to TGG Capital “pursuant to
the terms of the Escrow Agreement… among First Coast Financial Ltd, Steve G. Stevanovich, and
Columbia Services, Inc.” Rield Decl., Ex. F. at 3. The last party is the escrow agent; the first was
one of Stevanovich’s creditors. See Declaration of Adam M. Levine, dated August 29, 2019, Ex.
A, ECF No. 53-1. The Trustee contends that, if it is true that the proceeds of the Christie’s auction
sale of the wine were put in escrow on behalf of TGG Capital, one would expect an escrow
agreement between TGG Capital and Christie’s. Reply 11. Yet the escrow agreement appears to
be between Stevanovich and one of his creditors. At best, this fails to support Stevanovich’s
account; at worst, it provides additional support to the Trustee’s argument that Stevanovich bought
the wine and spirits for his personal benefit, and not as an investment strategy on behalf of an
It is true, of course, that the Trustee has the burden of proof here, not Stevanovich. It is the
Trustee’s burden to present competent evidence to show that Stevanovich was the beneficiary of
the Judgment Debtor’s wine purchases and he has done so. In sum, the Trustee has produced a
declaration from Mr. Klein which is undisputed and establishes that the vintner dealt with
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Stevanovich personally and shipped the wine to Stevanovich’s residence in Switzerland. Indeed,
Stevanovich admits that he stored the wine in his own cellar. In addition, the Trustee has produced
bank records showing that instead of using his own funds to pay for the wine, Stevanovich used
funds belonging to the Judgment Debtor, of which he was sole Director, and over whose accounts
he held signatory authority. Notwithstanding these facts, Stevanovich maintains that he was not
the beneficiary of the Fund’s wine purchases, but the materials he has offered in support of that
claim do not suffice to create a dispute of fact that requires an evidentiary hearing to resolve.7
Stevanovich’s sworn testimony that he had no recollection of these events cannot be reconciled
with his subsequent detailed account of the events that purports to show that everything he did was
for the benefit of the Fund’s sole investor. Indeed, that account, and the few records offered to
support it, undermines rather than corroborates Stevanovich’s tale. Accordingly, The Court finds
that the Trustee has carried his burden to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that
Stevanovich is indebted to the Judgment Debtor on a theory of embezzlement.
Accordingly, the Court grants the Trustee’s motion for turnover, and orders Stevanovich
to return $1,948,670.79 to reduce the outstanding judgment against Capital Strategies Fund, Ltd.
John J. Tharp, Jr.
United States District Judge
Date: September 8, 2021
Stevanovich has not requested an evidentiary hearing in any event. Instead, he offers to
file another affidavit to address any additional questions arising from the declaration he has already
filed. It is clear, then, that Stevanovich anticipates a ruling on the papers.
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