Late area restaurateur Don Regan's ex-wife says he stole her identity.


Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 7:25 p.m.

Don Regan was one of Gainesville's best known restaurateurs before he died in August.

Regan's ex-wife, Laure, said she didn't fully know about another side of him until after his death.

Laure Regan has filed claims on her ex-husband's estate for nearly $68,000 in bills for an outstanding line of credit and unpaid credit card. She claims he stole her identity after their divorce to obtain the credit.

"You just never expect someone to do this to you," she said.

Don Regan owned Grill Masters, Panama Joe's/Joe's Place, Northwest Grille and Steak and Pasta Works restaurants. He was the former owner of Copper Monkey restaurant and the bars that are now called Gator City and Grog House.

The current owner of those businesses, Rob Zeller, has also filed claims on Regan's estate for more than $115,000 in unpaid lines of credit and credit card bills. Zeller couldn't be reached for comment.

Regan's children, Donald J. Regan II and Christine R. Regan, said in a statement issued by their attorney that Laure Regan's claim arose as a result of a contested divorce in 2004. They denied that their father forged his ex-wife's signature to obtain credit.

"The family prefers to handle this as a private matter and we do not wish to provide further comment at this time," they said in the statement.

Laure Regan said she's speaking out to inform the public of a type of identity theft that doesn't show up on credit reports. She said she would have been stuck with the bill if she hadn't filed a claim by a legal deadline.

"It's amazing to me how people can go and steal someone's identity," she said. "Then they die and you're responsible."

Claims against the estate must be made within three months of the publication of a Nov. 29 legal notice, according to a filing in the case.

Laure Regan said she had just refinanced her condominium before her ex-husband's death on Aug. 20 of melanoma cancer. Her credit report at the time showed no problems, she said, because the credit was obtained using tax identification numbers from the restaurants.

She claims Don Regan forged her signature to obtain a credit card and a line of credit from Wells Fargo. The last known balance on the credit card was more than $19,600 and the line of credit was nearly $48,300, according to a legal filings.

She said she couldn't get Regan's children to repay the bills, so she must rely on the legal system to resolve the matter.

"It's costing me thousands of dollars in attorney fees that I can't get back," she said.

Nathan Crabbe can be reached at 352-338-3176 or crabben@gville sun.com.

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