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Earlier this year, half-sisters Scheryle Patigian and Andrea Swanson brought a suit alleging that their Dallas tycoon dad, Harold Simmons, was a self-styled bully trying to defraud them of funds they rightly owned. You claimed he had taken billions of bucks from trust funds he had established for you, buying houses, a plane and presents for his third wife Annette.
You claimed that he gave away capital from trust to charity and right-wing republican office owners who do not uphold it. Patigian, 44, and Swanson, 31, filed claims for $50 million in compensation and Simmons' distance as trustees of the two trust companies that own most of his $1.3 billion assets.
New York Times likened the tragedy to King Lear. Reporter forecasted that the process, which began in October, would shed a hard shadow on the lonely 66-year-old Simmons, who had established much of his kingdom and conducted enemy acquisitions of public limiteds. More than fifteen attorneys were engaged by Patigian and Swanson (who do not want to speak to the press) to help defend their case and promised several million dollars in emergency charges if the trust was taken out of their father's hands.
Several Dallas citizens who know Simon's suspect that he would come to an out-of-court settlement instead of paying an estimate of $8 million in attorney costs just to put everything at stake in front of the courts. However, Simon never agreed - which to his own amazement gave him some official backing he had never had before.
"Both my girls thought they should get as much cash as they want whenever they want, and I said no," he said to me in an interviewer in his Palace-like house in North Dallas, showing me a dozen supporting epistles he had gotten from Dallasites he didn't even know.
Narrow circle of acquaintances - among them Nancy Brinker, a humanitarian, and Gerald Turner, chairman of Southern Methodist University - have gone so far as to send emotive messages to the Dallas Morning News, commending Simmons, citing the paper on the father's honor, and critiquing the paper for giving room to daughters' accusations. Growing up in a house without power in East Texas, Simmons began his bank carreer in Dallas as a credit clerk for the Republic National Bank.
Borrowing $95,000 in 1961, he entered into $5,000 of his own cash and acquired a chemist's; three years later he put the net value of the shop, $33,000, into a trustee so that his subsidiaries could prevent believers and cut his inheritance income bill. Finally he repaid his debtors, acquired more drug stores, in 1973 resold for 50 million dollars to the Eckerd group, and used this capital for larger investment and the acquisition of little-known large corporations.
In order to prevent higher taxation, Simmons put almost all of his cash and all of his businesses into the initial trustee or a second, which he also established for his subsidiaries. Both Patigian and Swanson have said that they just want to get the assets for their own kids. However, the court room watchers were shocked when the two wives frankly spoke about how addicted they were to the cash Simmons was paying them from the Trusts and how much they wanted more.
Encouraged by Simmons' payment, Simmons, who is living with her man, a fighting painter and writer, and her kids in an eight-bedroom house, will receive a tax-exempt grant of $15,000 per months from the trust. Swanson, who gets $5,000 a months tax-free, is a California resident and has a wife to a man who, according to the court, has difficulty retaining a position during the process (he also allegedly forfeited $80,000 trying to establish tournament chess).
When Swanson was asked under vow whether she had ever thought about covering her own cost of life, she was asked if she had ever thought about it. However, more pertinent to the case was whether Simmons had always been acting in the best interests of its recipients, as prescribed by statute. Mainly thanks to his abandoned offer for the defence contractor Lockheed in the early 1990s, the value of trust fell from $1.8 billion to $1 billion, which Patigian and Swanson say shows his ruthless investment policy.
But at a crucial point in the process, a trusted professional who testified on their behalf was compelled to cross-examine and cross-examine to confess that if a fiduciary typically had put the net value of $33,000 from Simmons' first chemist's shop into the kind of consumer asset management vehicle that requires standardized banking, the confidence today would only be $245,000.
And then there was the question of the other girls from Simmons: Epstein, who is Patigian's sibling ( her mom was Simmons' first wife), and Swanson's sibling, Serena Connely (both of whom were children of Simmons' second wife). Epstein and Connely have been receiving less cash from the trust than their nuns. to Patigian, $896,575 to Swanson, $422,430 to Connely, and $395,675 to Epstein.
But in her report at the beginning of December, Connelly not only said she was thankful for her father's "very competent" work as a trust, but added that Swanson was a "greedy" wife who wanted to gain full custody of the trust companies only after learning how much they were valuable.