Photo School President Fails to Answer Fraud Charges

A federal bankruptcy court has declared Hallmark Institute of Photography (HIP) president George J. Rosa III in default for failure to respond to a bank’s fraud claims against him.

People’s United Bank of Springfield, Massachusetts sued Rosa in February 2010, alleging that he kept two set of books at HIP to hide assets from the bank and divert money for his personal use. Rosa filed for personal bankruptcy protection in August 2009. PUB sued him about six months later to prevent the bankruptcy court from discharging Rosa’s $2.2 million debt to the bank.

Rosa defaulted on his loans from the bank in the spring of 2009. PUB responded by taking control of Hallmark Institute of Photography, which Rosa owned, and sold it to Philadelphia-based Premier Education Group. HIP continues to operate under the new owners, which kept Rosa on as president of the school.

The bankruptcy court finally issued a notice of default against Rosa in late October because Rosa “failed to plead or otherwise defend” against the bank’s claims in a timely manner.

The default notice stipulates that PUB must apply for a default judgment–and propose what the judgment should be–before the court issues a final ruling on the bank’s claims. According to court records, PUB has not yet applied for a default judgment.

Neither Rosa’s attorney nor PUB’s attorney responded to requests for comment.

Separately, a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee has asked for court approval to sell one of Rosa’s properties to an interested buyer for $130,500. According to court records, Rosa has mortgages on the unoccupied property totaling $282,909, including a mortgage of $132,909 from Premier Education Group.

Related: $3.6M in Debt, Photo School President Faces Fraud Charges

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