Exclusive: Frank Ski's bankruptcy, financial problems laid bare in court documents

Posted February 21, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com and BEN BRASCH/ben.brasch@ajc.com on the AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Frank Ski, who just returned as full-time morning host of V-103, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last August, according to federal court documents.

His ex-wife Tanya Parker, who he divorced in 2015 after 20 years of marriage, also filed a contempt of court claim against him that same month which was amended in November in the Superior Court of Cobb County. In her claim, she said he owes about about $56,000 in child custody payments and has not given her access to half of their retirement money. "Defendant mocks this court and shows blatant disrespect in violation of this Court's Order," her complaint said in relation to their 2015 divorce agreement.

In an interview, Ski said he is hoping to resolve the issue with his ex wife as soon as possible. "I'm building back," he said. "I tell people I had to press the reset button. I don't give up. I start over. That's what it is. I'm not afraid to start over."

As for his ex, "Tanya is the mother of my children. I care for her. We talk almost every day."

He said he wasn't skirting his payments on purpose. He was merely under financial duress. "My kids are the No. 1 priority in my life," he said. "I will take care of them forever. I'm just grateful to be back [with a full-time gig at V-103.] That's it. I'm glad God gave me this second chance. I want to serve the community."

Tanya, through her attorney, did not respond to inquiries for comment.

The court documents are all under Ski's real name, Frank Rodriguez.

Ski, who recently got remarried to a doctor Patrice Basanta-Henry , lives in Atlanta. His ex-wife resides in Cobb County. He has four sons, one who is an adult and three who are in high school.   Franklin is a senior at the private school Lovett School; Harrison is a junior at Lovett; and Blake is a junior at another private school Pace Academy.

In Parker's contempt of court claim, she said Ski is required to pay $10,000 a month in child support but had been giving her only about half that amount each month since March, 2017.

Just a few weeks before the court filings in August, Ski did an interview with my colleague Jennifer Brett touting his strong co-parenting relationship with Parker.

“You’ve got to be able to work together, keep the kids first,” Ski said.

"Seek God in all you do," was Tanya's key tip for successful co-parenting. "Pray for patience and accept the things you can't change. Always put the needs of the children first. Remember they are innocent, and can't choose their parents, or make them stay together."

In an interview Tuesday, he said he has worked hard to ensure his financial issues have not directly impacted his kids.

According to Ski's most recent amended financial statement to the courts filed January 30, 2018, he had $294,695.97 in assets and $1,050,586.86 in liabilities. That means he was more than $650,000 in the red.

His last amended statement before he began working full-time with V-103 said his monthly income was $11,785.19 and monthly expenses were $18,167.03.

His liabilities included about $42,000 in credit card debt, $80,000 in state taxes, $187,696.64 in federal taxes. He also had a mortgage of $374,752.68 and $364,670.78 from a loan he was given through the U.S. Small Business Administration for his restaurant Frank Ski's Restaurant and Lounge, which operated from 2011 to 2015.

The court documents filed by Ski notes that he took out $550,000 from his IRA retirement accounts in 2015 and 2016, engendering major tax penalties and leaving less than $300,000, representing a bulk of his stated assets. His ex wife, in her contempt of court filing, said Ski had been required to provide her half the IRA but had not done so.

Parker, in her amended complaint, wrote that she has "accumulated a high amount of attorney's fees and has not fully paid as she has almost exhausted all financial resources just to support herself and the parties' three children."

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia discharged his estimated $1 million in listed debts on January 12. But  Howard Rothbloom, a local bankruptcy attorney who looked over the court documents for the AJC, said the case is not yet closed because the trustee is still fishing around for additional assets to help pay off creditors.

"He's free to live his life now," Rothbloom said. "He just can't sell assets while the case is still open."

Ski said he doesn't harbor regrets over his choices. But running Frank Ski's Restaurant and Lounge in Buckhead clearly contributed to his financial woes.

At the time it opened in 2011, he hoped to create his own version of Houston's, a nearby chain restaurant.

"It's all about living out your dream," Ski said in 2011 at an opening party for the restaurant. "It's fruition of a dream." But in the end, it became a massive money loser for him. He wasn't able fully pay back his SBA loan, part of the debts the court discharged last month.

For many years while they were married, he lived with Parker and their kids in an eight bedroom, 10-bath, 12,000-square foot mansion on Jett Ferry Road in Atlanta. For many years, he hosted his annual Frank Ski celebrity wine auction events to raise funds for his Frank Ski Kids Foundation at that home. He hobnobbed with celebrities and dignitaries such as music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs,  hip-hop artist Y oung Jeezy, actor Idris Elba, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and basketball legend Julius Erving. He'd regularly raise $100,000 or more and take at-risk kids to places like the Galapagos Islands.  Later, he'd hold his auctions at his restaurant instead.

He purchased the home in 2002 for $1.8 million, according to real estate property records. He placed it on sale in 2013 for $2.2 million but ultimately sold it later that year for $1.2 million, $600,000 less than his purchase price.

Ski began full-time as morning host again at V-103 on February 12, five years after he first departed the station. He was a top-rated host at V-103 from 1998 to 2012, leaving to try to hammer out a syndication deal that never came to fruition. He worked for a couple of years at WHUR-FM in D.C. before returning to Atlanta in the fall of 2015. He had been part-time on V-103 since the spring of 2016 before the daily morning show slot opened up last month when Ryan Cameron announced his departure.

The good news for Ski is his youngest sons are almost 18 so he soon won't owe child custody payments. And with the bankruptcy court discharging his debts and the benefits of a full-time job, he'll be able to regroup and rebuild his credit score. It also doesn't hurt that he is now married to a successful doctor.

In the interview, Ski said his problems have made him a more humble human being:"I think I'm a better person. I'm a little older and wiser. I have some life experiences that people can relate to. I can share in the average person's struggle. You pick up and reinvent yourself. I'm grateful that I"m healthy. My brand is still good. I'm still out there doing work."