Local News

Mike Nifong Files for Bankruptcy

Posted January 15, 2008 3:54 p.m. EST
Updated January 16, 2008 5:08 p.m. EST

— Former Durham prosecutor Mike Nifong has filed for bankruptcy, listing a debt of $180.3 million, according to documents filed Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Durham.

The filing comes on the same day the former Duke lacrosse prosecutor and others involved in the case were to submit responses to a federal lawsuit by the three men he sought to prosecute.

Nifong lists David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, as well as three other members of Duke University's 2006 men's lacrosse team who filed a separate federal lawsuit — as unsecured creditors, each owed $30 million.

More than 30 other lacrosse players from that team are also listed as creditors, each owed $1; the North Carolina State Bar, owed $8,397.71 for costs related to his disbarment; and nearly 70 other people involved in or associated in some way the nearly yearlong investigation of rape, sexual assault and kidnapping claims by an exotic dancer.

Nifong values his assets, including his house, car and personal belongings, at $243,898.

The filing temporarily protects Nifong against litigation, Cary bankruptcy attorney Travis Sasser said.

But the unsecured creditors – the lawsuits' plaintiffs – can file what is called an objection to dischargability, arguing that the debt was incurred through "willful and malicious injury."

The plaintiffs would have to show that Nifong intended both the action and the harm that came with the injury, Sasser said.

Seligmann's attorney in the civil case, David Rudolf, said the lawsuit will continue as planned, calling Nifong's bankruptcy filing a small part of the lawsuit at this point.

"Our primary concern is not collecting money from Mike Nifong," Rudolf said. "Our priority is how the city does business and to change how the police department conducts itself."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dismissed the case against Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann last year, declaring them innocent of all charges.

The North Carolina State Bar disbarred the embattled prosecutor for more than two dozen violations of its rules of professional conduct. In September, Nifong spent a day in jail after a judge found him in contempt of court for statements he made in court about the case.

Nifong is due in bankruptcy court Feb. 8 for a creditor's meeting.