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N.Y. gem dealers sue Saum-Wicklein

September 28, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

Two New York City gem dealers have filed a suit that alleges a Hagerstown councilwoman and her family conspired to avoid paying them nearly $200,000 for inventory at a downtown jewelry store.

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Councilwoman Susan K. Saum-Wicklein, her father Douglas Saum, and her husband Michael Wicklein, are named as defendants in the lawsuit filed last week in Washington County Circuit Court.

At the heart of the dispute is last year's closing of the 100-year-old family business, Saum's Credit Jewelers.

By dissolving the company and reopening under a new name, the Jeweler's Daughter, the family defrauded the two New York City creditors, the lawsuit alleges.

JBI Industries Inc. and Miracle Diamond Corp. are represented by Hagerstown lawyer Dana G. Hadigian, who declined to comment.

JBI claims it is owed $147,139 plus interest and Miracle Diamond claims it is owed $47,927, court records show.

The two companies sold jewelry on credit to Saum's Credit Jewelers from 1993 through 1996, court records show.

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In April 1998, Saum's Credit Jewelers closed its Valley Mall store.

Video Vision of Hagerstown, owned by Michael Wicklein, bought $8,000 of the Public Square store's inventory, court records show.

Attorney Gary A. Rosen of Rockville, Md., was appointed by Washington County Circuit Court in April of 1998 to sell the company's assets and pay its creditors.

That sale raised about $50,000, which doesn't cover the company's debts, Rosen said.

Rosen expects to distribute the money in the next two weeks, with each creditor getting a percentage based on the amounts they are owed, he said.

He could not say exactly how much the claims total.

The court reduced JBI's claim to $131,000 and Miracle Diamond's claim to $42,000, records show.

Her lawyer, Roger Schlossberg of Hagerstown, did not return three phone calls Tuesday.

Neither Saum nor Wicklein could be reached for comment.

Saum's Credit Jewelers' financial troubles had built up over time, court records show.

In March 1995, Office Manager Patricia I. Domer agreed to get cash advances on her personal credit card to cover operating costs, court records said.

The business was paying her back until Domer resigned in February 1997, records said.

The business also had fallen behind on tax payments, court records show.

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