Experience. Leadership. Management. Philanthropy. Awards.
These are the words FAU’s Board of Trustees members used to describe themselves when they applied to join the board.
Bankruptcy filings. Foreclosures. Tax warrants. Court orders to pay debts.
These are the words they neglected to mention.
As FAU’s highest-ranking leaders, the trustees make FAU’s biggest financial and academic decisions. Their actions affect the entire university community — students, faculty, administrators, staff, alumni.
But a University Press investigation also found federal lawsuits, job performance complaints, a federal tax lien, and an eviction order in their past.
Thomas Workman Jr.
Thomas Workman Jr. makes his living helping others with their finances. He’s been running accounting firms for decades.
In 1971, Workman graduated from FAU with a bachelor’s of accounting. Today, he’s president of Thomas Workman & Associates, an accounting firm in Boca Raton.
Workman is also a personal financial specialist, a credential for certified public accountants who also work as financial advisers. According to the American Institute of CPAs, the credential “enhances your image as a trustworthy financial adviser.”
But federal and local court documents paint a different image of Workman. Foreclosures, sixfigure
debts, a federal tax lien, and a bankruptcy filing lurk in this trustee’s past.
Workman, a past president of FAU’s Alumni Association, did not respond to interview requests, so this timeline of his financial problems is based on court documents:
- 1990: The IRS issued a federal tax lien against Boynton East Inc. because it owed $2,700 in back taxes [PDF]. (Workman was the only officer of the company, which existed for less than a year). It was also known as Bright Horizons Childrens [sic] Center, but the University Press found no explanation why.
- 1992: Boca Bank sued NYWR Inc., its president, and Workman to foreclose on property they owned [PDF p. 2, 3]. (Besides the president, Workman was the only other officer of NYWR, which no longer exists.) The judge ruled that the defendants owed the bank $188,000, plus $4,000 for the bank’s attorney fees. They lost the property to the bank.
- 1993, April: California Federal Bank sued Workman, Rhine & Co. — an accounting firm — to foreclose on a residential condo it owned [PDF p. 8, 10, 17]. (Workman was president of the company, which no longer exists.) The judge ruled that the company owed the bank $22,500, plus $2,850 in interest and $1,500 for the bank’s attorney fees. The University Press couldn’t determine why the company bought a residential condo in the first place, but it lost the property to the bank.
- 1993, May: Sun Bank South Florida sued Workman, Rhine & Co. to foreclose on another residential condo it owned [PDF p. 18, 19]. The company lost that property to the bank too.
- 1994, June: A judge enforced a settlement for a lawsuit that First Union National Bank of Florida had filed against Workman, Rhine & Co [PDF p. 21]. The settlement says Workman and his wife owed the bank more than $400,000.
- 1994, October: Workman and his wife filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, which requires debtors to sell most of their property to pay back creditors and be cleared of their debts [screenshot]. The court cleared the Workmans of liability for their debts, which means their creditors couldn’t send them to collections.
- 1995, November: First United Bank sued Workman and his wife to foreclose on a Boca Raton condo they owned — even though they’ve owned a 3,400-square-foot home in Boca Raton since 1978 [PDF p. 26, 28]. The judge ruled that the Workmans owed the bank $29,000, plus $6,000 in interest and $1,000 for the bank’s attorney fees. They lost the condo to the bank.
Sources: Court documents, Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, AICPA.org, Workman’s Questionnaire for Senate Confirmation, FAUAlumni.org, USCourts.gov, FAU.edu/BOT
Anthony Barbar is the son of a local legend, former real estate mogul George Barbar.
A six-page Sun-Sentinel article from 1996 recounts the saga of George’s empire. The headline reads, “Fall From Grace: South Florida Developer George Barbar Had It All — Money, Influence, Fame. Then One Day, The Government Came Knocking At His Door.”
According to the article, George began to invest in local real estate, taking out loans along the way, after he immigrated to the U.S. as a millionaire car salesman in 1974. He started a company called The
Barbar Group Inc. in 1975. George was its president and his son Anthony was a vice president.
At one point, George reported investments of $250 million. But by the early 1990s, his family empire had accumulated $78 million in debt.
The Barbar Group filed for bankruptcy in 1991 and no longer exists. George’s biggest achievement, the Woodfield Country Club in Boca Raton, was auctioned off in 1993. George had to sell his yacht, airplane, and several pieces of real estate. The government seized George’s and Anthony’s homes.
Two decades later, Anthony Barbar has a company of his own. He is president and CEO of Barbar & Associates, LLC, a real estate consulting firm.
But although he chairs the Board of Trustees’ Audit and Finance Committee, Barbar has financial problems of his own. Government records show that a bank is currently trying to foreclose on him, and that he has yet to pay off a $191,000 debt.
Barbar, a past president of FAU’s Alumni Association, did not respond to interview requests, so this timeline of his financial problems is based on court documents:
- 1990, November: After Woodfield Hunt Club Homeowners Association Inc. had sued The Barbar Group and Barbar Realty Inc., the judge ruled that the Barbar companies owed the homeowners association $850,000 [PDF]. (Barbar was president of Barbar Realty, which no longer exists.)
- 1991, January: The Barbar Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which gives businesses a chance to reorganize so they can pay their debts [screenshot]. But the court denied the company protection from its creditors.
- 1991, May: On behalf of Investors Federal Savings Bank, the federal government sued Barbar, a relative, and Royal Palm Improvement Association Inc. to foreclose on property they owned [court docket]. The judge ordered three foreclosures and ruled that the defendants owed the bank $37 million.
- 1992, April: Barbar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but the court denied him protection from his creditors [screenshot p. 2].
- 1992, June: After the Bank of Credit and Commerce International Limited sued Barbar Realty, Barbar’s father, and another relative, the judge ruled that they owed the bank $313,000, plus $40,000 in interest and $9,000 for the bank’s attorney fees [PDF p. 3].
- 1996: Bank Audi sued Barbar, his father, and another relative. The judge ruled that they owed the bank $1.4 million [document].
- 1990 – 2002: During this time period, Palm Beach County issued 20 tax warrants against The Barbar Group or Barbar Realty because they owed back property taxes [screenshot]. The documents are unclear about how much money each company owed for each warrant, but the warrants authorized the tax collector to seize and sell the companies’ property if they didn’t pay up.
- 2002, February: A company called Royal Palm Mortgage sued Barbar, his father, and two other relatives to foreclose on property they owned [PDF p. 7, 9]. The judge ordered a foreclosure and ruled that they owed the mortgage company $3.1 million.
- 2002, August: A landlord sued The Barbar Group, Barbar Investment Group Inc., Barbar, and his father to evict them from office space in a building the landlord owned [court docket]. (Barbar was president of Barbar Investment Group, which no longer exists.) The judge ordered an eviction.
- 2009: Deutsche Bank National Trust sued Barbar and a relative to foreclose on property they owned [court docket]. As of publication time, the lawsuit was still pending.
- 2010: After a different landlord sued Barbar and Barbar Investment Group, the judge ruled that they owed the landlord $191,000 in back rent, plus $2,700 for the landlord’s attorney fees [PDF p. 15]. As of publication time, government records showed the debt still wasn’t paid up.
Sources: Court documents, Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations, Barbar’s most recent Questionnaire for Senate Confirmation, FAUAlumni.org, USCourts.gov, Barbar.com, Sun-Sentinel.com
Paul Tanner makes his living helping others with their finances. This FAU alum has worked in wealth management for 30 years.
He is currently a financial adviser and a senior vice president of investments for UBS Financial Services Inc., where he has worked since 2008. Tanner’s previous employers include Morgan Stanley and now-defunct Lehman Brothers Inc.
Despite his experience, two lawsuits and several complaints have been filed against Tanner, most within the past decade. “Unfortunately, we live in a litigious society,” Tanner explained.
These timelines of Tanner’s financial and legal problems are based on court documents, other government records and Tanner’s side of the story:
- 1987: After First Union National Bank of Florida had sued Tanner, a judge ruled that Tanner owed the bank $4,600, plus $1,600 in interest and $1,300 for the bank’s attorney fees [document]. The debt was paid off by December 1989. According to Tanner, he’d taken out a loan to buy a $12,000 sailboat, and there was “nothing uncustomary about the transaction.”
- 2004, April: Tanner resigned without notice as a senior vice president at Morgan Stanley, where he had worked since 1995, and took a job with one of Morgan Stanley’s competitors, Lehman Brothers. Tanner’s resignation letter read, in its entirety, “Effective immediately, I am resigning from Morgan Stanley” [PDF p. 24]
- 2004, June: Morgan Stanley sued Tanner in a federal civil court [PDF]. The lawsuit claimed Tanner (and two other former Morgan Stanley employees) “stole hundreds of Morgan Stanley customer files” and “confidential customer information.” Those customers’ accounts earned Morgan Stanley about $1.5 million in commission during the 12 months before Tanner resigned. The lawsuit also claimed that, after Tanner resigned, he “actively and aggressively commenced solicitation of active Morgan Stanley customers to transfer their accounts to Lehman Brothers.” According to Tanner, Morgan Stanley sued him because “they were upset [he] left and went to a competitor.” He also said the files he took from Morgan Stanley contained his personal records, like his diploma, his tax returns from the past 10 years, and his children’s birth certificates. In 2005, the lawsuit was settled out of court. “We resolved it in 24 hours,” Tanner said.
Professionals like Tanner who work in the financial brokerage industry must register with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc., or FINRA, an independent organization that oversees financial brokerage companies in the U.S.
“To protect the investing public” is one of FINRA’s goals, its website explains. So FINRA maintains a public database that includes records of customer complaints against brokers. For a complaint to be added to FINRA’s database, the customer had to have first claimed to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that “their broker engaged in activity that violates certain rules or conduct governing the industry.”
The University Press’ investigation found five such customer complaints involving Tanner. One was dismissed, and these are the other four:
- 2003: A Morgan Stanley customer complained that Tanner and another broker violated state and federal laws and committed fraud and negligence in connection with the buying and selling of stocks and mutual funds. The customer claimed $100,000 in damages. The dispute was settled, but the details of the settlement are confidential.
- 2004: A Morgan Stanley customer handled by Tanner claimed that industry rules were broken in connection with bond transactions made in 2001 through 2004. The customer claimed $500,000 in damages. To settle the dispute, Morgan Stanley credited the customer’s account $175,000 because of an alleged overcharge. According to Tanner, the complaint was baseless against him, because it was Morgan Stanley that overcharged the customer and he was no longer involved with the customer at the time of that error.
- 2007: A Lehman Brothers customer, whose account was handled by Tanner and another broker, complained about an investment he paid for more than a year earlier. To settle the dispute, Lehman Brothers exchanged the investment for a different one, which resulted in a $459,000 loss for the company.
- 2008: A Lehman Brothers customer complained that he had accepted a recommendation to invest money but that the money was never actually invested. The customer claimed $16,000 in damages. As of publication time, the dispute was still pending.
Sources: Paul Tanner, court documents, Tanner’s Questionnaire for Senate Confirmation, FINRA.org, UBS.com
And then some
Court documents show that these four trustees have also had financial or legal problems:
- David Feder*: In 2000, a disabled man sued East Bridge Mall Inc. in a federal civil court [PDF]. (Feder was president of East Bridge Mall, which no longer exists.) The lawsuit claimed the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against disabled people: “Barriers to access involving parking and path of travel at this property have posed a risk of injury.” The alleged barriers included a lack of handicapped parking spaces (two handicapped spaces out of 200 parking spaces) and a lack of handicapped parking spaces with van access (none out of the 200), as well as ramps that needed repairs or were too steep. The lawsuit was settled out of court. Feder did not respond to interview requests.
- Jeffrey Feingold: In July 2009, Martin County issued a tax warrant against Feingold’s company Dentaland Dental Centers because the company owed back property taxes from 2007 [PDF]. The warrant authorized the tax collector to seize and sell the company’s property if it didn’t pay up. The amount the company owed is not mentioned in the warrant, and Feingold did not respond to interview requests.
- Angela Graham-West: Since 2004, six liens have been filed against Graham-West and her husband by the different homeowners associations [document 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. The liens say the couple owed a total of $4,000 in overdue homeowners association fees, late charges and related costs. As of publication time, five of the six liens were paid up. Graham-West, who has worked as a financial adviser since 1998, did not respond to interview requests.
- Abdol Moabery: In 2009, a former longtime employee of GA Telesis Component Repair Group Southeast sued the company in federal civil court [PDF]. (Moabery is the company’s only officer.) The former employee, who had been fired, claimed that he was denied medical leave for knee surgery. In 2011, the lawsuit was settled out of court. According to Moabery, who said he employs 300 people, it was cheaper to settle than to fight the lawsuit in court. “It’s just the nature of being an employer,” he said of the lawsuit.
*Since the publication of this issue, Feder – who did not respond to interview requests made to FAU’s Media Relations department or the Board of Trustees chair prior to publication – has denied involvement with East Bridge Mall Inc. “David Feder has never had any type of relationship with the East Bridge Mall, Inc.,” FAU Press Secretary Lisa Metcalf told the University Press by email on May 17, 2012. Department of State records confirm, however, that Feder was a president of the company when it merged with another company in December 2004, although he did not become president until one to two years after the lawsuit settled.
Sources: Court documents, Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations, each trustee’s most recent Questionnaire for Senate Confirmation, GATelesis.com
Photos courtesy of FAU Media Relations unless noted.
This article is part of an investigative series about FAU’s Board of Trustees members. To read the other articles in the series, visit upressonline.com/BOT.