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Luxury Las Vegas condo dominates Bolleas' divorce hearing

Terry Bollea and his wife, Linda, sat on opposite sides of the courtroom Wednesday, separated by a gaggle of attorneys and accountants.

They didn't say a word to each other during eight hours in court. If they made eye contact, it was only fleetingly.

In recent months, the Bollea family has become a fixture in the Pinellas court system, cycling through four cases. Wednesday's all-day hearing was devoted to their divorce.

The majority of the discussion involved a $4.2-million condo in Las Vegas, which the couple was planning to buy. Linda Bollea wants the sale to go through, but Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan, now thinks it is a waste of the marital assets and wants a judge to allow him not to close on the property.

"It's ridiculous," Terry Bollea said after the hearing. "We ought to agree to give the money to (John) Graziano and our children, not so she (Linda) can buy a condominium in Las Vegas to party with a 19-year-old."

He said as much, minus the reference to his wife's partying, at one point during his half-hour on the witness stand.

A.J. Barranco Jr., an attorney for Linda Bollea, snapped back: "If you are so charitable, why have you formed all these LLCs since your son's accident?"

Barranco accused Terry Bollea of entering a "scheme" to shield his assets by setting up as many as nine limited liability companies, even before a suit was filed on Graziano's behalf.

Graziano, the 23-year-old Marine seriously injured last August when Bollea's son, Nick, crashed his car, is receiving around-the-clock medical care.

Circuit Judge George W. Greer had previously ordered Terry Bollea to close on the property, but Bollea wants the court to amend that order based on new information and arguments about the sale.

Dressed in a black suit, with a black shirt, a cross necklace and without his trademark bandana, Terry Bollea corrected Barranco when asked if he was an actor. Under oath, Bollea said he was "an entertainer."

The former wrestling star spent most of the day sitting among his lawyers. From time to time, he sipped from a small energy drink.

When an appraiser testified about the precipitous drop in the Las Vegas luxury condo market, a point that buttresses Bollea's argument that the condo sale doesn't make sense, Bollea pounded his chest and made an approving motion to his lawyers.

Meanwhile, Linda Bollea did not say a word to the court during the hearing. She wore a white suit top and a black skirt.

Lawyers for both sides accused each other of showboating. Ann Loughridge Kerr, an attorney for Terry Bollea, said Barranco's examination of her client was irrelevant to the case and just a matter of "playing to the media."

Later on, when attorney David Houston made a motion to be allowed to join the case as counsel for Terry Bollea, Barranco objected, saying that Houston was just a "talking head." He said Houston had already appeared on talk shows hosted by Larry King, Nancy Grace and Howard Stern. It would be impossible, Barranco said, to have discussions with an attorney who was seeking so much media attention.

A talking head?

"I take that as a compliment," Houston said after the hearing.

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Luxury Las Vegas condo dominates Bolleas' divorce hearing 08/13/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 15, 2008 2:00pm]
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