Mark Bosworth, a former Valley real-estate maverick who once boasted he owned $50 million in property, claims he was conned into trying to cash a bogus, $4,500 check.
The felony forgery charge he's fighting could result in jail time. It's an ignominious -- though somewhat expected -- turn of events for a man who once described himself as a real-estate "guru."
Bosworth (not to be confused with Oregon bicyclist Mark Bosworth, who vanished mysteriously in September 2011) lived a lavish lifestyle in the mid-2000s, flipping houses by the dozen, making medium-scale commercial deals and running a busy property management company. He even wrote an "Investor's Corner" column for the Arizona Republic's real estate section. Then the real-estate crash brought his empire down, exposing his unethical practices. He declared bankruptcy in 2008 after being sued and ordered to pay a $17 million award to a former customer.
We wrote an in-depth article about Bosworth and his companies in our May 15, 2008 edition.
One of his former companies, a property management firm called gorenter.com, (managed by Bosworth relatives), is still in operation. His other companies, and his business Web site, have long been folded. Two of his former employees were ordered by the Arizona Corporation Commission to pay about $1 million each for alleged scams.
Bosworth and his wife were forced out of their million-dollar Scottsdale home and into an apartment. It's unclear whether he still receives any income from Gorenter, but he's found some work in recent years as a business consultant.
"Rainmaker," reads Bosworth's title on a business card he had printed while working for Scottsdale's City Kitchen catering in 2010.
Around the first of this year, though, Bosworth was unemployed and in the process of moving again. One day in late January, he took a $4,500 check made out to him from mega-corporation Halliburton to CheckSmart, a check-cashing joint at 3329 East Bell Road. A clerk noticed a typing error on the name of the bank on the check and, believing correctly it was fraudulent, called police.
When a cop showed up, Bosworth explained that he'd received the check as a "signing bonus for future employment at Halliburton."
Bosworth was arrested and booked into jail, then released. He was indicted in late March on the forgery charge.
In court paperwork, Bosworth's defense has been that he's a victim of a scam. He claims he answered an ad for a Halliburton job and even conducted two interviews over the phone with supposed Halliburton representatives before they agreed to hire him for work "in North Dakota oil fields." These alleged con artists then sent Bosworth the $4,500 check that turned out to be a fake, Bosworth insists.
David Wood, a deputy county attorney for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, wrote that the only evidence Bosworth presented as proof of his tale were "generic job postings" found on a Halliburton Web site.
After listening to Bosworth's story, Wood did more research on Bosworth. He learned that criminal charges had been submitted on Bosworth four times previously, but the agency hadn't moved forward on those charges. One of the charges was another alleged bad-check scam; yet another was related to the multi-million-dollar lawsuit Bosworth lost, in which one of his customers had alleged that Bosworth had forged her name on real-estate documents.
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Wood soon "no longer saw value in speaking" to Bosworth about his claim of being conned, Wood wrote in a reply to Bosworth's motion to dismiss to the case.
Besides growing tired of Bosworth's bull, Wood wrote in his reply that in August, Bosworth pretended to be Bosworth's lawyer in e-mails sent to Wood. When Wood told Bosworth's lawyer, David Appleton, about the e-mails, Appleton declared he could no longer represent Bosworth, according to Wood.
Last week, Superior Court Judge Susanna Pineda rejected Bosworth's "victim" tale, tossed out his motion to dismiss and set a trial date for December.
If you're one of the folks to whom Bosworth still owes money -- well, don't bother contacting Halliburton.