Ex-real estate magnate linked to Walla Walla mall in coma

Michael R. Mastro was injured in a fall last week, an attorney said.


A bankrupt former Seattle real-estate magnate linked to the failed reconstruction of the Blue Mountain Mall is in a coma in Palm Springs after suffering a fall last week, one of his attorneys said Tuesday.

Michael R. Mastro, 85, fell last Tuesday at his home in nearby Palm Desert, James Frush said. He underwent surgery Saturday to relieve pressure on his brain.

Mastro's prognosis is uncertain, Frush said: "We just don't know what's going to happen, either with Mike's condition or with the legal proceedings."

A trial is scheduled to start next month in bankruptcy court in Seattle to determine who is entitled to proceeds from the sale of several former Mastro assets, including his Medina, Wash., waterfront mansion. A postponement "is certainly something that has to be discussed," Frush said.

The court and lawyers for other parties have been advised of Mastro's accident, he added. Mastro's wife, Linda, and other family members are with him at the hospital.

The Mastros moved to Palm Desert late last year after the court-appointed trustee in the bankruptcy proceeding took possession of the Medina home.

Mastro, a Seattle native, was a prolific real-estate developer and lender for 40 years before the recession undermined his empire. In July 2009 he was pushed into what probably is Western Washington's largest and most complex bankruptcy ever.

Mastro had been a figure in the ownership changeover and redevelopment plans of Walla Walla's Blue Mountain Mall. Though listed as an ownership partner when Blue Mountain Plaza LLC purchased the mall, he was not at the forefront of dealings with the city when plans were announced to convert the mall into an open-air shopping destination.

In court papers, he listed debts totaling more than $570 million. His lawyers have said there is no money to repay creditors whose debts were not secured by property or other collateral.

They include about 200 "Friends & Family" investors -- mostly individuals, mostly from the Seattle area -- who together had loaned Mastro more than $100 million.

James Rigby, the trustee representing Mastro's creditors, contends Mastro, anticipating bankruptcy, schemed to hide some assets and put others out of most creditors' reach. Rigby has filed several suits to undo those deals.

Before his accident, it was unclear whether Mastro would testify at the trial scheduled to start next month. He is the subject of a criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office, and has repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when questioned under oath.


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