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Court: Country/Rock USA promoter doesn't have to release expenditures

Country USA 2019 is officially underway in Oshkosh. July 28, 2019 (WCWF/ Beni Petersen)

MILWAUKEE (WLUK) -- A federal bankruptcy trustee declined a request Wednesday to release a list of expenditures by a pair of bankrupt Oshkosh-based music festivals, while the concert operator’s attorney reiterated that the COVID-19 pandemic blindsided the festivals.

Hypervibe declared bankruptcy after canceling the Rock USA and Country USA festivals last summer.

Nearly 10,000 people made initial claims of more than $4.4 million. Court documents show Hypervibe had about $700,000 in assets at the time of its bankruptcy filing.

During a bankruptcy court hearing Wednesday, those owed money were given the chance to ask questions to Derek Liebhauser, Hypervibe president; his attorney; and Bruce Lanser, the trustee overseeing the proceedings.

Chad Ewald, who said he is owed $2,676.45 he prepaid for tickets and camping, wanted a list of all expenditures from Jan. 2019 to the time of bankruptcy, to see where the money went.

Lanser said the information would not be released, but he assured creditors that it is his responsibility to review all transactions to determine if there was any fraud.

Paul Swanson, Hypervibe’s attorney, said the organization was expecting a profitable 2020, depending on the weather.

“This is not a nefarious, preplanned scheme to bilk the public,” Swanson said.

Hypervibe is working to reduce the amount owed to various creditors, so that as much money as possible may be available to ticket holders. Of note, he said the lease on the festival grounds was not renewed, and Hypervibe was able to eliminate a $1.5 million in payments to the lease holder.

Trustee Lanser has asked a federal judge for permission to sell some of Hypervibe’s assets. The deadline to file objections to that request is Jan. 22. After that, the available assets will be reviewed, as will the claims. Those reviews are expected to take several months before any payments are made.

To be eligible to receive a portion of any funds, a creditor must file a proof of claim by Feb. 23. If someone has already filed a claim, another one is not needed, according to court documents.

No hearings are currently scheduled, according to federal court records.