The Small Business Administration yesterday filed suit against former D.C. Human Resources director Joseph P. Yeldell to recover more than $90,000 the agency says he owes on a loan on which he defaulted in 1976.
Government lawyers said they filed the suit against Yeldell after attempting in March to negotiate a payment schedule on the balance of a $100,000 loan that was made to Yeldell's now-defunct Entrepreneur Travel Associates Inc. by the McLachlen National Bank. The SBA, which had guaranteed 90 percent of the loan, assumed the debt in 1975.
When Yeldell failed to get back in contact with the government following the March meeting, a letter was sent to him on April 17 advising him to contact the U.S. Attorney's office, government sources said. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court after Yeldell failed to respond to the government's request.
Yeldell, now a special assistant to city administrator Elijah B. Rogers, could not be reached for comment. When the loan was declared in default in 1976, Yeldell commented, "It's nothing more than any close-out of an SBA loan" and added that there was nothing untoward about it." The lawsuit also named Yeldell's wife, Gladys J. Yeldell, as a defendant.
According to court papers filed with the suit, initial court action to collect the money owed on the loan was delayed while Yeldell was on trial with millionaire businessman Dominic F. Antonelli Jr., both of whom were acquitted in September 1979 of bribery and conspiracy charges. The government had charged that the two men engaged in a corrupt scheme involving the award of a $5.6-million city lease for a building owned by Antonelli in exchange for a loan Antonelli gave Yeldell.
During the trial, the government contended that Yeldell underreported his available assets and income in a financial statement submitted to the SBA when it first began negotiations to recover the debt prior to the start of the criminal case. Yeldell said he had merely not disclosed money that had been set aside for his daughter's college education.
Specifically, the SBA contended in the lawsuit that Yeldell and his wife owe $68,867.45 in remaining principal on the loan and $22,536.87 in interest that accumulated at 8.5 percent annually up to Nov. 28, 1980, when the case was referred to the U.S. Attorney's office. An additional $16.26 in interest on the total amount is owed for each subsequent day, the lawsuit said. i
In most cases, before any court action is taken in SBA default cases, government lawyers meet with the debtor, ask for a financial statement and then determine if some payment schedule can be devised to resolve the debt. The government usually reviews the debtor's assets and liabilities to determine how payments can be made. A formal agreement usually is then reached between the government and the debtor in order to avoid court suits.
Government sources said only limited discussions had been held with Yeldell up to the time he failed to respond to government requests for further negotiations.
The SBA asked the federal court to issue a formal judgment against Yeldell and his wife for the money owed to the government. From there, the government could move to attach assets owned by the couple to satisfy the outstanding loan and interest.
"He's obviously got something or we wouldn't move forward on it," one government lawyer said when asked about Yeldell's available assets.