When Marvin Chaney decided to take his high-end robotic self-storage facility “RoboVault” into bankruptcy this October, things were already a bit odd. The floundering $22 million facility boasted retinal scans at the doors, white glove art handling, and an elaborate robotic retrieval system for sports cars and particularly valuable items. Not that there was any doubt, but Thursday’s court proceedings show that the RoboVault is anything but normal.
Chaney and his attorney Lawrence Wrenn refused to show up to court on Thursday, leaving Judge John K. Olson no choice but to hold them in civil contempt. Federal authorities have been summoned to track down the two men, but it may be hard to find Wrenn, as an affidavit states that he is out of the country and no longer representing Chaney.
RoboVault’s bankruptcy trustee, Barry Mukamal–who took control of RoboVault in November–contends that Chaney misguided the company by going into business with a group of people looking to sell 100-year-old Chinese, Mexican and German bonds. Chaney himself testified that RoboVault became a trading depository for the sale of 30,000 of these bonds, with the facility making $500 for every bond sold.
Chaney and Wrenn disobeyed Judge Olson’s orders to provide Mukamal and his lawyer James Fierberg with the names and contact information for all parties involved with this bond arm of the storage business. Although Chaney and his partners supposedly believe the old bonds are worth millions, Fierberg thinks they may be worthless.
Fieberg has suggested that Chaney was running a boiler room telemarketing operation, selling interest in the antique bonds as part of a Ponzi scheme. Chaney denied the allegations.
According to Fierberg’s court filings, Chaney and Wrenn have “embarked upon a calculated, strategic journey to wreak havoc.” Fierberg contends that either Chaney or someone pretending to be Chaney called in fake 911 calls to Fort Lauderdale police, one of which claimed a robbery was in progress at RoboVault.
Although no official legal representation for Chaney was present in the courtroom proceedings on Thursday, conspiracy theorist and convicted felon James Thomas McBride appeared in court, filing paperwork demanding the case be dismissed.
McBride, who calls himself the “Postmaster General of North America” and claims to represent the pope, yelled at Judge Olson and refused to approach the bench. After being handcuffed and escorted off the premises, McBride was held in custody for five hours and then released on the condition that he attend a January 30th hearing to explain his actions.
Mukamal and Fierberg are under the impression that the court filing and subsequent ranting of the self-proclaimed “Postmaster General” were more attempts by Chaney to disrupt proceedings.
The bankruptcy case is off to an extremely strange start–quite fitting for such an unusual storage business model.
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