Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Frank McCourt denies changing property documents

September 2, 2010 | 11:06 am

Frank McCourt staunchly denied that he participated in "any way, shape, or form" in the switch of property listings in his and his estranged wife's signed marital property agreements.

In his third day on the stand in his divorce trial, McCourt said when he first heard that his wife's attorneys had suggested he might be part of a fraud, "needless to say I was extremely upset." He said he told his lawyers to hire a forensic examiner to look over the contracts.

The McCourts are battling over who owns the Dodgers -- is Frank McCourt the sole owner, or do he and Jamie McCourt as a couple share ownership? The couple signed six copies of a marital property agreement dividing their assets in 2004. It turns out that three copies listed the Dodgers as being included in Frank McCourt's property.

The other three exclude the Dodgers from that property. The couple signed the copies without closely examining half of them. After they signed the agreement, the lawyer who drafted it discovered the discrepancy, according to Frank McCourt's divorce lawyers. That lawyer then switched in a document that said the Dodgers were Frank McCourt's sole property.

Frank McCourt's divorce attorneys say that lawyer was just correcting a mistake. Initially, when the agreement was first being drawn up in March 2004, McCourt and the attorney went over a rough draft of the agreement.

The rough draft had a list of Frank McCourt's properties that said it was "exclusive" of the Dodgers. "My reaction was that it was an obvious mistake," McCourt testified Thursday morning. He added, "It was inconsistent with what Mrs. McCourt said in my presence ... about what she wanted to achieve" in the agreement.

The couple drew up the agreement in 2004 to list their homes in Jamie McCourt's name and the Dodgers and other assets in Frank McCourt's name. The purpose was to protect their homes from business creditors.

Jamie McCourt contends she never expected the agreement to govern how they divided assets in a divorce. Complicating their legal battle is the fact that they inadvertently signed two radically different versions of their marital property agreement -- one lists the Dodgers as his sole property. The other excludes the Dodgers from his sole property.

-- Carla Hall and Bill Shaikin