Business News

Federal court authorizes seizure of Moreno’s BR property

by Leslie Turk

Lafayette businessman had planned major mixed-use development between Downtown and LSU.

The U.S. District Court has ordered that the property for Mike Moreno's proposed Baton Rouge development be seized and sold to satisfy the businessman's debt to Goldman Sachs Bank.
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The U.S. District Court for the Western District granted Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s request to seize Lafayette businessman Mike Moreno’s New Iberia and Baton Rouge properties. On Sept. 15 the court ordered U.S. marshals in Lafayette and Baton Rouge to take control of the property and sell it to the highest bidder to satisfy Moreno's debt to Goldman Sachs Bank.

On July 8, the New York-based bank sued Moreno, his wife Tiffany and a number of his various entities for defaulting on a $52 million loan he took out in Oct. 11, 2013, just two weeks before his fracking company, Green Field Energy Services, went belly-up and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Green Field was liquidated in mid-2014 (Moreno is being sued for $230 million by the liquidating trustee for allegedly stripping assets from the company in the months leading up to its bankruptcy).

To satisfy the $58 million in principal and interest Moreno owed Goldman Sachs, the bank requested that Moreno’s property in New Iberia and Baton Rouge, which he pledged as collateral, be seized and sold.

Federal marshals are now moving forward on the foreclosures of the Port Road Property (also known as the West Yard at the Port of Iberia, which formerly housed Dynamic Industries) and the Nicholson Estates Property, various tracts Moreno purchased as part of his planned River District, an approximately 40-acre mixed use project in Baton Rouge. Over the course of seven or so years, Moreno and his sister, Dalis Waguespack, worked to accumulate property on both sides of Nicholson Drive, between Downtown and LSU. As recent as January 2014, Moreno was touting that the development — 1,800 residential units, two hotels, 275,000 square feet of office space and 118,000 square feet of commercial space — would happen.

The loan from Goldman Sachs was secured by a first mortgage on the Nicholson Estates Property and a first, second, and third mortgage on the Port Road Property, the bank stated in the suit.

The court ordered the marshals to turn the property over to Latter & Blum Management, a “keeper” that will manage the property through the process of appraisals, advertising and other necessary steps leading up to a public sale to the highest bidder.

According to Goldman Sachs’ lawsuit, Moreno, who still has a home in Lafayette, is now living in Harris County, Texas, presumably Houston.