Paterno House Transfer Won’t Shelter Him

November 17, 2011 by staff 

Paterno House Transfer Won’t Shelter Him, The New York Times reported yesterday that Joe Paterno transferred ownership of his house in July to a trust, less than four months before the recent sexual abuse scandal erupted.

Mark Viera and Pete Thamiel, who wrote the story, did some good old-fashioned shoe leather reporting. They got public records, filed in Centre County, Pa., showing that on July 21, Paterno’s house near campus was turned over to “Suzanne P. Paterno, trustee” for a dollar plus “love and affection.” Previously, they report, the couple had been joint owners of the house, bought in 1969 for $58,000 and now worth $594,484.40.

Here’s what the story doesn’t tell us, but readers need to know: if, as a result of the scandal, Paterno is sued and found to be personally liable, the July transfer would probably not stop the house from being used to satisfy a judgment against him.

The reason stems from state and federal laws that prohibit what are called fraudulent conveyances: transfers of assets made with the intent to hinder, delay or defraud creditors (those are legal buzz words in italics). Creditors include everyone from disgruntled spouses and ex-spouses to people who win lawsuits against you. If a court finds there has been a fraudulent conveyance, it can declare the transfer void and order the assets be made available to creditors.

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