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Bankruptcy Judge OK’s|US Fidelis Settlement

ST. LOUIS (CN) - A federal bankruptcy judge said he will approve a settlement with US Fidelis, despite the Missouri attorney general's protest that the deal leaves Fidelis' owners, Darain and Cory Atkinson, and their wives, with far too much money.

The settlement required the Atkinsons to give $10.5 million to US Fidelis and surrender at least $10 million more in assets. The brothers' wives would keep $500,000 each, along with some cars, jewelry, clothes and household items; another $250,000 would remain in the educational plan for Corey Atkinson's three children. The money would go to pay creditors, who would have to agree not to sue the brothers or their wives in exchange for the money.

Attorney General Chris Koster and two debtors filed briefs this week objecting to the settlement. Koster said the settlement gave the Atkinsons too much economic relief and unfairly shielded them from litigation.

While the settlement may shield the Atkinsons from further civil litigation, it does not protect them from any criminal charges. In approving the settlement, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Charles Rendlen III sided with most of the 15 lawyers who attended the Wednesday hearing. The judge ruled that it was critical for creditors to secure the Atkinsons' fortunes before more money was spent defending the ongoing criminal investigation.

US Fidelis was the nation's No. 1 extended-warranty dealer for autos before it collapsed last year. US Fidelis claimed the Atkinsons plundered more than $101 million of its assets for their own gain.

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