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Judge finds prominent attorney circumvented state law for his benefit

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Late last month, a judge blasted a prominent Albuquerque attorney and businessman, finding that he manipulated the law in an attempt to sidestep paying hundreds of thousands of dollars and surrendering assets in a judgment over a botched vehicle tune-up in 2017.

Judge Victor Lopez, of the 2nd Judicial District, found that William Ferguson transferred the title to a Ferrari between companies that he controlled and claimed unsupported liens to avoid paying a verdict in 2018 in favor of plaintiff Creig Butler.

Ferguson’s action related to the Ferrari “reveals his disregard of New Mexico corporate and other laws in avoiding creditors and taxation,” the order states.

“This conduct demonstrates a pattern of circumventing New Mexico laws for his attempted personal benefit that counsel was trained and sworn to respect,” Lopez wrote in the order.

“Mr. Ferguson is a licensed New Mexico attorney who should have known better.”

Lopez’s Oct. 28 order directs authorities to seize property and the Ferrari – worth hundreds of thousands of dollars – belonging to Ferguson and his company, Motiva Performance Engineering, LLC.

Days later, Motiva filed for bankruptcy and Ferguson filed for a stay of execution of the order.

Ferguson told the Journal that Motiva never owned the Ferrari or the inventory that authorities are trying to seize.

“We have been surprised, and remain surprised, by the progress of the case,” Ferguson told the Journal on Wednesday. He said he plans to fight the ruling and has filed an appeal.

Spencer Edelman, Butler’s attorney, said his plaintiff is owed nearly $400,000.

He told the Journal last week that his client has seen around $2,000.

“Judge Lopez properly ruled, following a trial, that Motiva and its primary owner, Will Ferguson, committed bad acts in an intent to avoid satisfying a jury’s verdict, and it’s unfortunate that we could not get this resolved,” Edelman said.

In February 2014, Butler took his Hummer to be modified at Motiva for $20,000 – including a new engine, exhaust and supercharger.

As of July 2016, according to the judge’s ruling, Butler had paid more than $70,000 and was given back a Hummer that was “unsafe to drive.”

Butler filed a lawsuit in 2017 seeking to recover damages from Motiva and the proceedings went on until a jury found in favor of Butler on Oct. 26, 2018.

On Nov. 7, 2018, the court ordered Motiva to pay nearly $300,000 – at 15% interest “until paid in full” – to Butler for punitive damages, negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of contract and attorney fees.

On the eve of the verdict, according to the order, Ferguson had made “suspicious transfers,” including withdrawals of thousands of dollars from Motiva’s account, which “should have been made available to pay the judgment.”

The judge found that Ferguson also transferred a $200,000 Ferrari from Motiva’s corporate name to another company he owned: Dealerbank Financial Services, Ltd., referring to the transfer as a “sham.” Furthermore, according to the judge’s order, Ferguson intervened when authorities were attempting to seize assets at Motiva’s Northeast Albuquerque location.

As Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies prepared to seize the property, including dozens of turbo kits, Ferguson showed up and said the property’s landlord, Avatar Recoveries LLC., had a lien on the property and that consent was needed for the seizure. Ferguson owns Avatar Recoveries LLC.

According to court records, Avatar did not take part in the proceedings to prove whether there was any such lien, and the court found no lien existed at the time deputies were trying to seize the assets.

“It was wrongful and inequitable for defendants and counsel to assert an unsupported lien that fairly delayed execution,” the order states.

“Ferguson’s conduct throughout this proceeding has been contrary to his oath as an attorney and is prejudicial to the fair administration of justice.”

Lopez ordered BCSO deputies to seize the Ferrari and Motiva’s inventory to “satisfy the judgment,” along with an additional payment of around $40,000 stemming from an insurance claim issued to Motiva in 2017 for the Ferrari after it was damaged.

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