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Judge: Batch property can be seized

A Murrysville group can now pocket some of Charlie Batch's personal property, including two Super Bowl rings, to recover the money the Steelers backup quarterback owes the company, according to federal bankruptcy court documents.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Jeffery A. Deller lifted an automatic stay on Friday, giving Primerock Real Estate Fund LP the choice to collect on its $820,000 claim against Batch by seizing property he put up as collateral to secure the debt.

The property, valued at about the same amount as the debt, includes Batch's interest in a Munhall house, the assets of his living trust, a 2006 Kawasaki personal watercraft, federal income tax refunds and sports memorabilia and jewelry. The list of items Batch provided to the court includes two Super Bowl trophies and rings, several jerseys signed by other Steelers and an autographed Mario Lemieux jersey.

Lawyers for Primerock and Batch couldn't be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Batch, 36, of Wexford filed for bankruptcy in December, according to court documents, listing $8.29 million in liabilities and $2.3 million in assets. His real estate company, Batch Development Co. Inc., had 25 properties turned over to a court-appointed receiver after defaulting on a $1.15 million mortgage with Dollar Bank.

Michael Shiner, chairman of the Allegheny County Bar Association's bankruptcy section, said the Primerock order is common in bankruptcy proceedings and doesn't necessarily mean the company will try to take Batch's property.

If a property is worth less than the debt placed against it, there's no reason to keep it in bankruptcy since it's not going to generate money that could be used to satisfy other debts, he said. But there's no reason for the creditor to try to get the property if the debtor is willing to make payments to keep it, he said.

"Charlie has some pretty good earning capacity," Shiner said. Batch made $855,000 last year as part of a two-year contract he signed in 2010, but his earnings for next season are uncertain due to NFL labor strife.

Batch indicated in court documents that he plans to retain the property and make payments.

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