Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Judge rules that woman can't erase $9.7 million judgment won by her ex-husband

TAMPA — Maria George told anyone who would listen that her ex-husband had threatened her life.

She told his partners in the investment banking community. She sent letters to David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey and Conan O'Brien. She once told a lawyer that if she could find an address for Santa Claus, she would have sent him a letter, too.

But a federal judge ruled on Wednesday that George's testimony that her husband wanted to kill her was not credible. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Caryl Delano said the Clearwater woman cannot erase through bankruptcy a $9.7 million judgment her husband won against her in a 2006 defamation trial. Under bankruptcy law, a debt that is incurred because of someone's willful and malicious conduct cannot be discharged, the judge said.

George's ex-husband, Scott George, 57, declined to comment through his attorney, Mike Markham. Maria George, 56, could not be reached, and a call to her attorney was not returned.

The Georges, who married in 1980, were a power couple who seemingly had everything.

Scott George worked in investment banking, first at Salomon Brothers and then with other firms. By the 1990s, the couple lived in a $3 million, 22-room home in the Chicago area, where they regularly entertained social and business luminaries. At one point, Scott George formed a company and sold it for $3 million.

An acrimonious divorce was finalized in 1999.

In 2002 and 2004, Maria George sent letters to thousands of people, including her ex-husband's business partners, alleging he had threatened her and accusing him of professional misconduct. The mailings, while untrue, ruined his high-flying career, Scott George testified.

George was the national director of mergers and acquisitions for Ernst & Young. The company was later bought out by another firm, and George was the only partner in his division not invited to stay, he testified.

George said negotiations with other companies dried up. He finally found a job at $160,000 per year, far below his previous earnings. He blamed his ex-wife's letters. So he filed a lawsuit accusing her of defamation and invasion of privacy. After an eight-day trial in October 2006, an Illinois jury awarded Scott George the $9.7 million verdict.

Maria George's initial bankruptcy filing said she had $27,000 in assets and $12.2 million in liabilities. At a bankruptcy trial last April in Tampa, Maria George insisted she thought her husband wanted her dead. She said the letters she sent were her way of preventing her ex-husband from "calling his Godfather" and arranging her death by poison, by bullet or by sabotaging the brakes on her car.

At times, Judge Delano appeared exasperated with some of the testimony about threats.

"I haven't heard about any killings," the judge told lawyers last year. "I haven't heard about any violence. All I've heard about is a very sad divorce case."

William R. Levesque can be reached at

Judge rules that woman can't erase $9.7 million judgment won by her ex-husband 04/11/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 11:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  2. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  3. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]
  4. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  5. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)