One of the developers of the multi-million dollar Walnut Springs development in Monroe County made the news last month for pleading guilty in federal court to bank fraud charges.
My clients, as well as myself, were surprised at being the last to know about this development given the fact that we assisted the FBI in developing their case, and were initially labeled as victims. However, the wheel of justice came to rest on labeling the bank as the victim, leaving the actual victims out of the equation altogether. Thankfully, the media picked up on this and published another story.
People who purchased land more than a decade ago on a Monroe County mountaintop aren’t surprised, their lawyer says, that the man who was supposed to develop that land pleaded guilty to a federal crime.
What is surprising, said Monroe County lawyer John Bryan, is that developer Daniel Berg hasn’t been charged by federal prosecutors with lying to the people who bought the land. Many of those people claim in a lawsuit that Berg lured them to purchase overpriced property that he had promised to turn into a multi-million-dollar housing subdivision, but never did.
“My clients were surprised,” Bryan said Friday. Surprised because they aren’t considered the victims in the federal case against Berg, he said.
Bryan said he and his clients spent a lot of time working with federal authorities during their investigation into the mountaintop development.
“We were told there was going to be a prosecution and we spent years working with federal investigators, doing victim interviews and showing how they were financially impacted by the fraud,” he said.
Bryan represents 33 plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in 2009 in Monroe County Circuit Court who purchased property on the mountain and allege a former United Bank vice president worked to inflate appraisals of the property. The lawsuit also claims United Bank knew of the scheme. The bank has denied the allegations, according to court documents.
See Monroe Land Purchasers Say They’re Victims of Developer’s Crime, Charleston Gazette-Mail, by Kate White.