Naked City

Bradley Loses the Ranch

Gary Bradley
Gary Bradley (Photo By Alan Pogue)

Gary Bradley's legal battle to develop more than 1,300 acres of the old Heep Ranch lost ground last week in a ruling that effectively invalidates the bankrupt developer's claim to the property. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Monroe determined that subsidiaries of the Lazarus Trust -- the centerpiece of the Bradley case -- did not have legal claims to the long-disputed ranch property south of Austin.

Prior to his bankruptcy, Bradley had received a favorable ruling in state district court that stemmed from a lawsuit he filed against the property owner, Hatsy Heep Shaffer. He claimed Shaffer reneged on a partnership the two had formed to develop the land. Whatever the disagreement, Bradley and Shaffer have since become bitter foes. Shaffer has since also filed for bankruptcy.

But last week's strike against Bradley doesn't necessarily bode well for Shaffer. Bankruptcy trustee Ronald Ingalls, who is responsible for identifying Bradley's assets and divvying them up among creditors, cheered the ruling. "It clears the way for me to go forward and litigate and settle the matter," he said. "It's also instructive that Gary Bradley is not bulletproof and that everything he touches doesn't stay in his pocket."

Bradley's biggest debt is to taxpayers, having built up a tab of more than $73 million for failing to repay loans he took out in the Eighties to build the Circle C development in Southwest Austin.

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