OKC bank suing Gaillardia for millions in overdue loans

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- A high-profile golf and country club in hot water. A foreclosure lawsuit from a local bank says, despite having a luxurious reputation, Gaillardia is not paying their bills.

Newschannel 4 spoke with county officials about Gaillardia's money troubles.

NewsChannel 4 is unaware of why Gaillardia is having financial problems because the owner, Phil Herrington, won't return calls.

It needs to be noted that Gaillardia homeowners and members have been paying their bills, according to one member.

First Liberty Bank wants Gaillardia to remain open during court proceedings, but what they, and the Country Treasurer, really want is their money.

Forrest "Butch" Freeman, OK County Treasurer, says, "They owe a total of $64,400." (2010)

Oklahoma County Treasurer Freeman says that's only what Gaillardia Golf and Country Club owes in overdue property taxes for 2010. If they don't pay that amount by next June, the property will be up for sale to the highest bidder.

In total, they're behind nearly half a million dollars in property taxes. Freeman says Gaillardia called his office last year to find out what they owe.

Butch Freeman says, "Uh, I don't know what they did with the information. I know what they didn't do. They didn't use it to pay the taxes."

The trouble is worse than that. On Friday, First Liberty Bank of Oklahoma City has begun foreclosure proceedings against the ownership group in Arkansas.

In their lawsuit First Liberty "Loaned $1.6 million to the owner and the owner defaulted on its loan when it failed to pay the monthly loan installment payments due in April and May."


The lawsuit says Gaillardia also owes more than $19,000 in interest on loans and the bank claims "only a (court-appointed) receiver can prevent the looming, irreparable harm" to the club.

They want the money management taken over because they say, currently, Gaillardia is falling apart.

Liberty Bank says that gorgeous 55,000 square foot country club has a leaky roof from hail damage that Gaillardia won't repair, despite receiving insurance money.

Liberty Bank says "Immediate action is required to safeguard the golf course's sole source of irrigation water."

They say greens and tee boxes could dry up, because Gaillardia is behind in payments to the OKC Water Utilities Trust.

The President and CEO of First Liberty Bank released a statement, saying "After much effort, First Liberty was unable to reach common ground with the borrower on a viable solution. The window for a collaborative solution has closed. We believe the legal approach we have chosen represents the quickest and best way to put the club on a solid footing, protect our investment, and preserve the quality of the community."

The state treasurer says Deer Creek Schools and Francis Tuttle are the ones who could really suffer because 70 percent of those overdue property taxes go to them.

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