Savannah resident Gregory M. Hirsch and his hedge fund Master Lending Group, LLC filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy earlier this month, impacting at least 130 investors owed an estimated $42.96 million from Hirsch, who claims $6.07 million in assets on the Form 201 petition, obtained by Connect Savannah through public records request. Submitted on behalf of Hirsch by Savannah attorney Judson C. Hill (of Gastin & Hill) on July 6, 2023, the form was mailed to creditors of Master Lending Group and suggests that Hirsch is unable to explain the more than $40 million missing dollars.
“Mr. Hirsch is suffering from a terminal illness which has rendered him unable to communicate,” wrote the attorney for Hirsch, Judson C. Hill. “Counsel is endeavoring to obtain complete business records, bank statements, etc.”
A Dissolution/Revocation letter, obtained through open record requests by Connect Savannah, was sent by Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on October 28, 2022 to Master Lending Group’s principal address (404 Mall Boulevard, Suite A). It shows that Master Lending Group did not officially close its doors until October 28, 2022. The Mall Boulevard address is the address for Hirsch & Tucker, a local company that does not list Gregory Hirsch anywhere on its website.
In July, the address for Master Lending Group, LLC was moved from the Hirsch & Tucker address to 308 Megan Court in Savannah. Gregory Hirsch was a managing partner at the CPA firm, which also provides “business consulting.”
Master Lending Group was dissolved, as Raffensperger wrote in October 2022, “for failure to file its annual registration, failure to maintain a registered agent or registered office in this state, and/or failure to submit payment for a dishonored fee payment or for fees, taxes, or penalties owed.”
Gregory Hirsch wasn’t involved in his own bankruptcy filing, at least not in actuality. Instead, Judith Hirsch and Hill were the representatives. Instead of Hirsch, his wife Judith has the Power of Attorney privilege for her husband. Gregory Hirsch is believed to have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
In a bankruptcy case, there isn’t the typical two-sided struggle of prosecution and defense. It’s three-pronged, with a state assigned Trustee acting as the arbiter between creditors and debtors. Hill did return three phone call messages left through secretaries at his office on Drayton Street in Savannah last week, but the office did confirm Hirsch is a client. So, Judson C. is the attorney for Hirsch, an individual, and the debtor is Hirsch-owned Master Lending Group, a business.
Bankruptcy process is different for an individual with no asset cases, explained Tiffany E. Caron, the Trustee assigned to the case, during a July 25 phone call with Connect Savannah. She also made sure to correct a few common misconceptions when it comes to how and if creditors will get any money back.
“Those creditors have gotten notice that a (bankruptcy) filing has been made by Master Lending Group,” Caron said during the phone call. “Creditors have until a certain date to file a claim, so even if some of the creditors are listed (on the Form 201 document), they won’t have a claim unless they file a claim and if they don’t file a claim, then they won’t share in any of the money distributed.
So, the money listed by each creditor’s name in the Master Lending Group bankruptcy filing is only an estimate made by Hill, on behalf of Judith Hirsch, on behalf of Gregory Hirsch.
“The number one thing a creditor can do is to file a claim with the bankruptcy court so that they can make sure they share in the distribution.”
Caron said the deadline for filing a claim is approaching, and creditors should consult the letter notifying them of the bankruptcy for more information.
Most of the people requesting money – maybe some explanation for the missing money – are members of Savannah’s Jewish community. They are the creditors owed and many of the creditors, court documents show, have identical last names, share the same address, live within neighborhoods immediately adjacent to Savannah’s southside Synagogue, the Congregation Bnai Brith Jacob (5444 Abercorn St.) or are otherwise connected to each other.
Some of the 130 creditors listed are individuals like Avigail Slatus ($87,000 estimated claim). Some are trust funds (Albert Jacobwitz Irrevocable Trust, $1.14 million) and some are businesses or LLC’s, like Master Lending Group itself (Redfish, LLC, $60,000). There are even company investment plans (Restaurant Equipment Company of Savannah “Profit Sharing Plan and Pension Plan,” Unknown amount) tied into the creditor pool built by Hirsch.
Slatus is the Rabbi at the Synagogue, a voice mail message was left for him and unreturned this week. He and the rest of the creditors will have a chance to ask questions, and, should they choose, demand answers at the creditor meeting.
“There is something called the meeting of creditors, and it is being held telephonically on August 9 at 2 p.m.,” Caron said. “Instructions for the call-in for that meeting are in the case file for those with access (and in the letter sent to notify creditors).
“If creditors are interested in what happened, or have questions, they can ask them at the time.”
When asked who would be fielding the questions, Caron said it was unclear who would be there beyond herself and Hill.
This is not the first time Gregory Hirsch has been in legal muddy waters.
On December 29, 1997, The Securities and Exchange Commission found him guilty of insider trading in the SEC v. Susan L. Hirsch et al. (filed March 20, 1997 in the United State District Court for the District of Georgia). Gregory Hirsch was a co-defendant with his sister Susan in the case which also involved co-defendants Danny B. Kaminsky, Lewis A. Kooden, Daniel H. Klugman and Michael D. Kooden.
The litigation release from that case said that Hirsch and his sister, Susan, used and passed along stock information not known to the public.
After getting the tip from his sister, the release states that “Gregory Hirsch tipped and purchased GTI common stock and call options jointly with a friend in Savannah, Danny Kaminsky, in advance of the announcement for profits of $251,190. Greg Hirsch was ordered to pay $93,837, which represented a portion of his alleged trading profits; based upon his demonstrated inability to pay, disgorgement of the remainder of his trading profits and prejudgment interest were waived, and he was not ordered to pay civil penalties.”
Collectively, the group was forced to pay fines amounting to $604,704.
“There may be a lot of stuff going on with this company,” said Caron. “But now, everything is consolidated into this bankruptcy case.”