BRADENTON, Fla. — The federal judge presiding over the Alabama Public School and College Authority’s case that attempts to void a swaption with JPMorgan has agreed with a joint request to delay the trial more than four months.
The case had been set for a non-jury trial to begin Oct. 4. Trial now is scheduled for Feb. 22.
“The parties have attempted in good faith to comply with the discovery schedule,” said a motion filed by the APSCA’s attorneys. “However, the length of time necessary to complete discovery was not previously appreciated or understood by the parties and they have determined that they will need additional time to complete discovery in this case.”
The litigation revolves around swaptions in 2002 and 2003 the authority entered into with JPMorgan in connection with its Series 1998, 1999A, 1999C and 1999D bonds.
The school authority received up-front payments of $12.6 million, while JPMorgan received options on various dates that it could require the agency to enter swap agreements once the fixed-rate bonds were refunded into variable-rate obligations.
JPMorgan exercised its first option in June 2008, which would have required the APSCA to issue refunding bonds later that year when the variable-rate market was experiencing severe problems and costs for liquidity facilities were soaring, authority officials have said.
In October 2008, the authority filed for a declaratory judgment in federal court to determine its rights and obligations.
The APSCA contended that former state officials failed to comply with procedural and documentation requirements imposed by Alabama law, and that the structure of the swaptions required it to make payments that were front-end loaded in relation to the refunding bond amortization schedule.
Officials also claimed the swaptions amounted to unauthorized loans instead of hedges against interest rate risk and that the anticipated variable-rate refunding was not feasible under terms required by state law in light of the deteriorated bond market.
JPMorgan filed a counterclaim seeking approximately $122 million plus interest and attorneys fees for termination costs. In addition to a termination fee, the authority could be required to pay back the $12.6 million up-front payment.
Last October, the APSCA did a fixed-rate refunding of the bonds related to the swaption suit and said it would make any payment to JPMorgan required by the court.
In another Alabama case involving the municipal bond market, Montgomery bond dealer Bill Blount has asked a federal judge for additional time to report to prison so he can work on submitting the $1 million forfeiture required as part of his conviction on pay-to-play charges centering on Jefferson County’s sewer bond deals.
Blount’s attorneys said in a filing Monday that prosecutors did not object to extending Blount’s reporting time by 60 days so he can begin his 52-month prison sentence on July 26 instead of May 27.
Blount was named in a 101-count indictment along with former County Commission president Larry Langford and Alabama lobbyist Al LaPierre charging all three with crimes related to Jefferson County’s now failed sewer refinancing deals.
Before trial began, Blount and LaPierre entered plea agreements. Blount pleaded guilty of one count each of conspiracy and bribery. LaPierre pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy and filing a false tax return. He was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to forfeit $371,932 and pay $98,433 in back federal taxes. LaPierre also is scheduled to report to prison on May 27.
Langford was found guilty by a federal jury on 60 charges, including money laundering, conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and filing a false tax return. He is now serving a 15-year prison term although he is appealing his conviction.