It’s taken him nearly 50 years, but Southwest Florida forensic accountant and bankruptcy trustee Jerry McHale says he’s finally worked the most stimulating case of his life. This from a grinder of the legal side of the financial industry with a dogged and down-home style that belie his glossy and polished resume. McHale has done everything from selling an Alaskan airline to finding a buyer for a repossessed yacht to recovering millions in stolen Ponzi scheme funds.
The stimulating case? Overseeing the bankruptcy-forced sale of intellectual property and other assets belonging to the parent company that ran the famed Palm Restaurant chain for generations. With 21 locations from Boston to L.A. and Miami to Mexico City, the company dates back to 1926, when Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi opened the first Palm, in New York City. The Bozzi and Ganzi families were into their third generation of ownership when, in 2013, things began to unravel. It started with an inter-family lawsuit that ultimately led the parent company, Just One More Restaurant Group, to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2019.
That’s how McHale, owner and president of Fort Myers-based McHale P.A., got involved in the case. The judge, from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa, named McHale chief restructuring officer of Just One More Restaurant and related entities.
A federal bankruptcy trustee for decades, McHale was intimately familiar with…