The Money Pit

Angry customers say a Valley log home builder has stolen their dreams and pocketed their cash

The Lees then filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy, allowing them to gradually pay off creditors without losing any property. That type of bankruptcy filing does allow the discharge of a debt created by fraud. (Their complaint was dismissed last year and the bankruptcy cases were closed.)

In the Preserve Investment Group case, the Lees were able to avoid paying a judgment against Great Bear by claiming the company had no assets, then filing for bankruptcy.

Attorneys who have prevailed in recent cases are determined to collect on their judgments.

Robert Zenor holds a "trust no one" sign he posted at his Payson cabin to commemorate his experiences with Great Bear Log Homes.Great Bear has a highly visible headquarters just off the Loop 101.Visitors to a May open house walk inside unfinished homes.Attractive ads in local publications give no hint of the company's legal and financial woes.Robert Zenor holds a flier he says contains a false endorsement from him.
Bruce Reade
Robert Zenor holds a "trust no one" sign he posted at his Payson cabin to commemorate his experiences with Great Bear Log Homes.Great Bear has a highly visible headquarters just off the Loop 101.Visitors to a May open house walk inside unfinished homes.Attractive ads in local publications give no hint of the company's legal and financial woes.Robert Zenor holds a flier he says contains a false endorsement from him.
Robert Zenor holds a "trust no one" sign he posted at his Payson cabin to commemorate his experiences with Great Bear Log Homes.
Kevin Scanlon
Robert Zenor holds a "trust no one" sign he posted at his Payson cabin to commemorate his experiences with Great Bear Log Homes.

One of those lawyers is Chester Yon, who sued the Lees in 1999 on behalf of Mirage Homes and Gary Martinson, attempting to get the Lees to pay on their promissory note. The case was settled in February. Mirage agreed to forgive the debt for the leased truck and the Lees agreed to pay an $89,000 judgment.

But Yon says the Lees are "way behind" on their $2,000-a-month payments to satisfy the judgment.

In another case, the couple who paid Great Bear and the Lees $50,000 in 1998 for a cabin in Washington that was never built is also hoping to collect on another judgment. A judge ruled last month that they were entitled to get that money back, plus interest.

Yon predicts the Lees may soon be forced to pay some of their obligations. Not only might they be restricted from seeking a discharge of these debts in bankruptcy court (there are time limits that preclude this), but lawyers who are better informed as to Great Bear's legal tactics could get tough. That could mean collecting on the judgments by seizing property at the company headquarters, then selling it at public auction to pay off the debts.

Raper is hoping for more aggressive enforcement for Lee: "He needs to be run out of town."

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