Piers Fuller / Tricks
Eugene (Gene) DeMarco had unique skills as a vintage airplane pilot, but was jailed for fraud. (File photo)
A specialist pilot convicted of defrauding filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson has not suspended his bankruptcy pending appeal.
Eugene John DeMarco, 59, served time in jail for dishonesty crimes against victims, including a business of Jackson and his partner Dame Fran Walsh.
The US-born pilot specialized in flying vintage airplanes and worked for about a decade for Jackson and Walsh’s aircraft company The Vintage Aviator Ltd, where he was a director until that irregularities were discovered in 2017, which ultimately led to his conviction and imprisonment for fraud.
He was declared bankrupt with a civil debt of $ 323,441 due to false claims regarding the waterproofing of a Wellington home he was selling.
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When the buyers canceled the contract, DeMarco retained their deposit of $ 120,000. They successfully sued him and were awarded costs.
He asked the appeals court to stay the bankruptcy pending an appeal against the decision to bankrupt him.
In a ruling on Tuesday, the court refused, for reasons which included that some assets and property needed to be investigated and secured, if necessary.
They included real estate in New York and Florida, a Ferrari car in New York and a plane in New Zealand which may be in the process of being transferred to a company in the UK, the court was told. .
Heavenly Creatures put Peter Jackson on the world map as a filmmaker, but it would never have been made without Fran Walsh.
The Court of Appeal said it agreed with the official assignee who oversaw the administration of DeMarco’s estate that the stay of bankruptcy was likely to be “highly prejudicial” to the public interest.
The unsecured creditors, and the couple who filed for bankruptcy to recover the deposit they paid and the costs they incurred, had the right to ensure that the administration of DeMarco’s affairs be completed as quickly as possible, the court said.
DeMarco’s appeal against the bankruptcy order may continue.
However, the court noted that an earlier appeal against compensation for damages that laid the groundwork for bankruptcy was treated as having been abandoned in June because it failed to follow the procedural steps to have an audience.
Jackson, Walsh, and others have ongoing civil lawsuits against DeMarco.
Due to his bankruptcy, DeMarco was unable to participate in recent civil cases, but he had previously argued that he was owed large sums.