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Frank McCourt: Jamie more concerned w/ homes

September 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
With the ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers hanging in the balance, Frank McCourt was on the witness stand Thursday in his divorce battle with estranged wife Jamie McCourt. Some key legal documents took center stage Thursday.The Dodgers are in the news for two reasons: there is the divorce case, and there is also a report in the L.A. Times that the Dodgers organization is running deep in the red.

Thursday, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt did not comment on that report. But in testimony, he happened to explain how different banks assess the value of a team. He said their estimates can vary by as much as $100 million.

The divorce case is all about the numbers and how they are divided.

For the first time, Dodger owner Frank McCourt can tell his story to the judge.

"It's just what it is," said McCourt. "It really is just tell the truth and everything else will be fine, really."

Under friendly question by his own attorney, McCourt went to the centerpiece of the trial: the marital property agreement. It was not his idea to divide assets, he said; it was wife Jamie's idea.

Attorney Victoria Cook spoke for Frank's legal team: "The central point is that Jamie pushed for this agreement. Jamie hired the lawyers to do this agreement."

Why? Frank says because they were moving to California, which is a community-property jurisdiction. If Frank's gamble on the Dodgers soured, Jamie wanted to be sure her $60 million-plus in real estate was protected.

"She was very, very afraid that Frank's business risks, the liabilities, all the obligations, the guarantees that he's testified about this morning, would impact her," said Cook.

The evidence, he shows, is in notes from 2004 before the purchase of the team.

She wanted her nest egg and she wanted it debt-free.

Jamie McCourt's attorneys assert she didn't understand the agreement and hadn't read it herself. Why would she give up a stake in the Dodger enterprise that had been valued at $800 million?

"Would someone trade that to avoid risk? It doesn't make sense, and when Jamie testifies you'll see that she never contemplated that, and wouldn't, and none of you would either," said Jamie's attorney Dennis Wasser.

Yet Frank says that as he acquired the Dodgers, he was shouldering $119 million in debt. Jamie did not want to share that. Frank's assets at that point were $15,000 in his checking account, $55,000 in his 401(k).

Frank went on to testify Thursday that the attorney that they retained at the time went through the agreement, line by line, asset by asset and explained it to both of them.

Jamie is scheduled to take the stand Friday.


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