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Wednesday, April 14, 2004

AUBURN, Washington — A bankruptcy attorney, William Messer, 57, was found beaten to death late Monday in his law office, police said. No one had been identified as a suspect yesterday. A law-enforcement source familiar with the investigation said there are several leads to follow but declined to be specific. Messer received an admonishment — the most mild discipline meted out — from the Washington State Bar Association in December for failing to show up for a bankruptcy hearing. As a result, a car was repossessed from two of his clients, according to disciplinary documents. There was no indication yesterday that the case had anything to do with his death.

By J. Patrick Coolican
Seattle Times staff reporter


WorldCom, which filed bankruptcy listing some $41 billion in debt, the largest in history, may owes the state of Mississippi a billion in delinquent taxes, according to a spokesman for the Mississippi attorney general. Mississippi’s claim, which was submitted a couple of weeks ago, came to light on Friday, when the U.S. bankruptcy court judge heard arguments on the states’ KPMG motion. WorldCom was based in Clinton, Miss., when it filed for bankruptcy and is now headquartered in Virginia. “We have put in a claim for $1 billion,” said a special assistant with the Mississippi attorney general. Asked if that amount included interest and penalties, he replied: “It’s back taxes.” Mississippi claims that WorldCom concealed approximately $24 billion in revenue to avoid paying state taxes.

SOURCE: Reuters


More and more elderly Americans are relying on plastic to pay for their golden years. The average credit card debt among people 65 and older has risen substantially, and more senior citizens are declaring bankruptcy. “It’s hugely embarrassing to most of the elderly people we talk to,” said Susan Hunt, regional counseling manager for Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta. “They’ve prided themselves their whole lifetimes on working hard and taking care of themselves,” Hunt said. “Now they are not able to do that anymore.” But they need not feel alone. The average credit card debt of persons over 65 was $4,041 in 2001, according to a study from Demos, a public policy group. In 1992, the average was $2,143. The numbers are adjusted for inflation. Among those with incomes under $50,000, one in five families was in “debt hardship.” That means they spent more than 40 percent of their income on debt payments, including mortgages.


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