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Spokane physicians struggle to explain reasons behind their $191 million bankruptcy

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 24, 2017, 11:34 a.m.

After a federal bankruptcy hearing, Dr. Debra Ravasia with her husband Dr. Sajid Ravasia leave the U.S. Post Office Building Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, in downtown Spokane, Wash. Ravasia and her husband, Dr. Sajid Ravasia, who works as a psychiatrist for Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, filed the Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Jan. 18. While they declared up to $191.2 million in potential liabilities to about 8,000 creditors, the entire case surrounds dealings with Dr. Debra Ravasia’s businesses. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
After a federal bankruptcy hearing, Dr. Debra Ravasia with her husband Dr. Sajid Ravasia leave the U.S. Post Office Building Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, in downtown Spokane, Wash. Ravasia and her husband, Dr. Sajid Ravasia, who works as a psychiatrist for Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, filed the Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Jan. 18. While they declared up to $191.2 million in potential liabilities to about 8,000 creditors, the entire case surrounds dealings with Dr. Debra Ravasia’s businesses. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane physicians who filed a $191 million bankruptcy painted a chaotic self portrait Thursday of a couple mostly clueless about their own personal finances, let alone the complex workings of their now-failed medical companies that served thousands of patients.

Drs. Sajid Ravasia and Debra Ravasia testified under oath in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing where creditors got their first chance to hear them explain how they plunged into such a huge financial mess.

The Ravasias explained that they put a $20,000 price tag on each of the more than 8,000 former patients of the businesses operated by Debra Ravasia, a gynecologist who up until a few months ago owned and operated Northwest Health Summit and Ajuva Spa.

Jim Perkins, of the U.S. Trustee’s Office, asked the Ravasias why they thought former patients may claim they are owed $20,000 when none has yet to make such a demand.

“We just took guidance from our attorney,” said Sajid Ravasia, who works as a psychiatrist at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

For most of the hearing, Perkins and attorney John Munding, who has been named the trustee in the case, grilled the Ravasias about payments and bills from their bank statements, most of which Debra Ravasia could not explain.

Perkins noted that the Ravasias listed monthly bills totaling about $11,000 for their home’s mortgage, valued at $577,500, and living expenses. Those costs include the price of a maid service, snow removal, lawn care and upkeep on their swimming pool.

“Is it reasonable and responsible for people in a bankruptcy to pay $11,000 for a place to live?” Perkins said. “Do you think you could find a place that costs less than $11,000 a month?”

After a long silence, Debra Ravasia said: “I don’t know.”

According to court records, Debra Ravasia spends about $1,500 a month on clothes purchases. She clarified that about $250 of that cost comes from laundry and dry cleaning bills.

The attorney then focused on the $3,900 a month the couple pay for their two youngest children to attend private St. George’s School.

“Socially, they are well connected,” Sajid Ravasia said of his two youngest children.

Perkins noted that the Ravasias live in the Mead School District. He asked again if it was reasonable for someone to pay for tuition for a private school when they owe so much money to others.

“They’ve gone through a lot with this,” Debra Ravasia said. “They are established in the school.”

Perkins pressed home the issue and asked if the couple had even inquired about changing schools.

“In our case, that would be very hard to do that,” she said.

As for her business debts, Perkins noted that Debra Ravasia listed $100,000 claims she filed against her own businesses. She explained that she had several paychecks from her own companies that she didn’t cash, “because I knew the company didn’t have it.”

“So do you believe the claims against the companies are valid, but the claims against you are not?” Perkins said.

Munding also asked Debra Ravasia about her bank statements, which included several withdrawals and even deposits that she couldn’t explain. Ravasia said she recently learned about a bank account she didn’t know she had until she started digging into her paperwork.

She also couldn’t answer where she had flown as recently as last month. “If I knew I would be asked these kinds of questions, I would have prepared,” she said.

Munding then asked about what looked to be travel expenses to Trail, British Columbia.

The couple explained that they vacationed in Rossland and stayed at a ski condo for two weeks over the Christmas break with family.

Munding asked if it was the same condominium that the Ravasias owned until November. They agreed, saying they signed ownership over to Ed Truelove on the grounds that the Ravasias owed more on the property than it was worth.

Asked if they previously knew Truelove, they said yes. He is Debra Ravasia’s father.


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