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HAMMOND | When was asked Tuesday outside court about his lawsuit against Sergio Garcia, Garcia's wife and a Highland-based chain of real estate and construction companies, Illinois investor Arthur D. Pringle chuckled, smiled and sputtered a torrent of profanities and insults about Garcia.

Garcia and his wife, Marisa Garcia, have filed for bankruptcy, as have at least two companies also named in Pringle's lawsuit, Kerusso Konstruction Kompany and Kerusso Real Estate. Pringle's lawyers say the Garcias manage the Kerusso companies. The Kerusso companies have been besieged with code-enforcement claims on Hammond properties, as well as Pringle's federal lawsuit, which claims the couple and the companies owe Pringle $7 million.

A lawyer for the companies and the Garcias, Gordon Gouveia, said the bankrupt companies will stay operational during their Chapter 11 reorganization. Gouveia said the defendants owe Pringle money, but he said the bankruptcy proceedings will determine how much is owed. The civil lawsuit is on hold pending bankruptcy hearings.

Gouveia said the housing-market collapse led the Kerusso companies into trouble.

Pringle, of Palos Park, has headed several Illinois companies, and he serves on the board of directors of Integra Bank. Pringle filed the lawsuit in February, claiming he is owed $7.2 million in outstanding loan payments. The lawsuit claims Pringle gave the loans between September 2006 and May 2008 to Kerusso Konstruction Kompany, Kerusso Asset Management, Kerusso Real Estate and Rehab Lending Tree.

The suit asks the court to award $7.2 million and hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest to Pringle, who also seeks collateral for the outstanding loans.

The Kerusso businesses buy, renovate, sell and lease houses, according to the lawsuit.

As of March, the Kerusso companies also faced more than a dozen code-enforcement claims in Hammond city court. Hammond code enforcement officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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