McCourt's memory fuzzy at divorce trial

Frank McCourt had trouble recalling some details involving his purchase of a professional baseball team, but he was certain of one thing: he's the sole owner.

On Wednesday, the 57-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers executive couldn't recall at his divorce trial if he had reviewed a business plan submitted to Major League Baseball, a newly minted publicity campaign or why he and his now-estranged wife hired a communications consulting firm.

But he was sure that he alone owned the team and that a draft of a postnuptial agreement that excluded the Dodgers from his assets was a mistake that was caught a day before he and his wife signed the paperwork.

McCourt and former Dodger CEO Jamie McCourt are locked in a costly divorce dispute that could decide ownership of the team purchased in 2004 for about $430 million. He contends the agreement gives him the Dodgers, the stadium and the surrounding property, while his wife believes the agreement should be thrown out and those assets should be split evenly under California's community property law.

Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon will have to decide whether the 10-page agreement is valid. He also could order the sale of the Dodgers.

McCourt testified for the second day under questioning from his wife's attorney David Boies and was expected to take the stand again Thursday. While the exchange between McCourt and Boies was far from contentious - the two even shared a few smiles together - it appeared McCourt's memory had escaped him.

McCourt said he didn't think he reviewed a business plan sent to baseball executives that laid out how he would turn the Dodgers fortunes around if he was approved as owner. In the document, there were plans to cut payroll, explore renaming Dodger Stadium and bolstering the team's farm system.

Boies asked McCourt how vital it was for the plan to get MLB approval.

"It was extremely important to me," McCourt said, but he added, "I thought it was a piece of the puzzle."

He also was lost for words when Boies presented records that showed McCourt had pocketed $2.5 million from the Dodgers transaction.

"Do you know what you did with those proceeds?" Boies asked.

"I do not," McCourt replied.

Wearing a charcoal black suit with a blue tie, McCourt had problems remembering events regarding the agreement, including whether his wife saw a copy before they signed it at their Massachusetts home.

Boies showed him documents from the family attorney that indicate he met only with Jamie McCourt that day, suggesting Frank McCourt may not have gone over the agreement with the family lawyer before signing it.

"We think he was at the house but not at the meeting," Boies said outside of court.

However, McCourt said the mistake that would have booted the Dodgers from his pool of separate assets was discovered at some point during a sitdown with the attorney. The document was changed to include the Dodgers, he testified.

"By the end of that meeting, it was clear that a correction needed to be made," McCourt said.

Three copies of the agreement list the Dodgers under McCourt's separate assets and three others don't. McCourt's lawyers have said the one word that was changed was due to a typo, but Jamie McCourt's legal team claimed her husband and the family attorney engaged in fraud by making the correction without telling their client.

The couple decided to separate their assets - Jamie McCourt would receive six palatial homes under the agreement - in order to protect her share of their wealth from his creditors.

Toward the end of the day, Boies asked McCourt what sounded to be a simple question.

"Do you know what dodgers.com is?" Boies said of the team's website.

McCourt paused for an inordinate amount of time before trying to spell out what it is.

© 2010 The Associated Press.

More in Crime

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus