GONZALES — The pending closing of a bankruptcy sale for a house once owned by deceased Pulitzer Prize-winning author and LSU English professor Robert Penn Warren was halted this week but is set to be completed Nov. 18.
On Wednesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Douglas D. Dodd ordered the delay and reset the closing date, his order says.
Bankruptcy trustee Samera Abide and Brett Furr, attorney of JPMorgan Chase Bank, which has a lien against the house, had sought the delay on Wednesday.
They took the action due to “issues arising” from appeal of the Bankruptcy Court’s order to hold the sale, according to a motion.
Sammy Nagem and Steve Bonfanti Jr., partners in the Sammy’s Grill business, won the house and its 7-acre site after a bankruptcy auction held at the federal courthouse in Baton Rouge on Oct. 7, federal court filings say.
JPMorgan Chase, which has more than $1.1 million in debt, interest and fees it is seeking to recover, submitted the top bid of $800,000 on Oct. 7, but the bank later assigned its bid to Nagem and Bonfanti, representing Sammy’s Properties LLC.
Bonfanti and Nagem, who bid $760,000, later asked the Bankruptcy Court in a motion to delay closing until Nov. 2.
The home at 16381 Jefferson Highway, Prairieville, in northern Ascension Parish is on the National Register of Historic Places due to Warren’s ownership between 1941 and 1942, according to the register.
In early September, the former owners of the house, Carolyn and William Carroll Jr., filed notice they planned to appeal the Bankruptcy Court’s Aug. 26 sale order with the U.S. District Court.
The motion by Abide and Furr filed Wednesday to delay the sale closing said the issues arising from that appeal, which were not described, did not come up until the closing.
Furr and Abide did not return messages seeking comment Thursday and Friday.
Nagem said in an interview Thursday the sale was delayed because of court action by the Carrolls, but added he did not know the particulars of the litigation.
Carolyn Carroll asserted the delay was due, in part, to the discovery of an unmarked cemetery on the site. The Carrolls contend in court papers that because of the cemetery, encumbrances or mortgages cannot be placed on the property under state law.
On Oct. 12, Bankruptcy Judge Dodd rejected their motion to void the sale based on disclosure of the cemetery, saying his court does not have jurisdiction.
On appeal, later last month, U.S. District Judge Frank J. Polozola also rejected an appeal of Dodd’s ruling.
Sammy’s Grill is building a new restaurant on the tract next to the house that Sammy’s Properties won at a separate bankruptcy auction in June 2010.