CBS Atlanta News digs deeper into what caused Theater of the Stars, Atlanta's longest running theater company, to go belly up. CBS Atlanta first reported on the money problems over the summer. Theater of the Stars, or TOTS, canceled the season. And in November, TOTS filed for bankruptcy. Season ticket holders haven't received a refund.
Reporter Jennifer Mayerle discovered the latest legal action to stand up for those owed money. The Federal Building in downtown Atlanta is a far cry from the footlights of Broadway shows. But it's where season ticket holders found themselves after TOTS filed for bankruptcy.
"The timeline is the biggest question. This has been going on since January when they started soliciting our money," Lynn Walker said.
"There's a lot of money that was sitting there. I want to know where it went," Joanne Capeloto said.
CBS Atlanta's cameras weren't allowed at the Meeting of Creditors, but Mayerle was there. It's where a trustee explains what TOTS Chapter 7 filing means. Collectively, season ticket holders paid more than a million dollars for shows that were never performed. And so far, no refund.
"I don't think someone with good accounting knowledge would've spent the money for future shows on current shows, it's not right," Lewis Baker said.
Attorney Michael McGlamry filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of season ticket holders for breach of contract and damages. He bought season tickets for his wife's birthday.
The suit alleges Theater of the Stars "conspired to fraudulently induce" people to buy season tickets "despite knowing the unstable financial situation tots was in and that it lacked financial resources to fund performances."
"There's been $1.3 million collected. There's less than apparently $200,000 left. We don't know who got paid. I have to believe based on what I've seen, this crowd's been in trouble for a long time," McGlamry said.
Another issue raised before the trustee: companies hired by TOTS were owned by TOTS officers. CBS Atlanta found records on file show TOTS paid nearly a million dollars to Theseus Productions since 2010. Theseus Productions is owned by former TOTS President and CEO Nick Manos. The million was in addition to his roughly $200,000 a year salary.
"It's interesting some entities included in there are owned by officers of TOTS. We don't know what they've been paid or not been paid," McGlamry said.
TOTS admitted to the trustee it was $2 million in debt at the end of 2012 before they started selling tickets for the 2013 season. Charitable contributions didn't come through, ticket sales were lackluster, and TOTS filed bankruptcy.
"Do you think there was wrongdoing?" Mayerle asked McGlamry.
"Our complaint alleges there was some fraudulent behavior. We'll see what that means as the facts come out," McGlamry said.
Season ticket holders are listed as the top priority to pay back. But based on initial assets discussed with the trustee, there likely won't be money to pay them. The TOTS board chair and attorney declined to talk with Mayerle.
Copyright 2013 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.