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Sorry. This is a personal post that isn’t related to housing or economics, and most of you won’t be interested.
I was defrauded by the buyer, Brig Burton (or Brigham Burton), in 2010-2011 when I sold a signage subcontracting business I had owned and run for 17 years.
Burton uses a lot of LLCs. Currently I think he might operate under the name Rockline Equity. There have been others. He also has gone by Kent Burton.
Initially, he had tried to flip the business to new buyers. I had a lien on the business’ assets, and he managed to pull the lien without notifying me, but through a stroke of luck, we caught it before the sale closed and were able to get paid on a personal note that had funded part of his purchase.
Please note, that paragraph is simply a recitation of facts. Whether he was right to pull the lien or whether he owed me the remaining balance are separate questions that have already been presented to a civil jury.
That jury had to consider my remaining claims against Burton. I eventually was awarded a legal judgment along with significant punitive damages.
The judgments I was granted against him included fraud and conversion. He appealed the rulings, and the appeals court upheld them, including the punitive damages that were assessed. The appeals court confirmed that "based on the record in this case, the jury could have found by clear and convincing evidence that Burton’s conduct was aggravated and outrageous, evincing an evil mind. Therefore, we decline to set aside the punitive damages awards."
I was able to capture some of the judgment by garnishing some accounts receivable. We had liens on his home plus several rental properties in Arizona and Texas. He managed to sell all the rental properties, so we had to claw back settlements from the title insurance companies who let that happen. When we finally moved to collect on his home, he filed for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy was eventually denied, but in the meantime, we made a three-way deal with another party who was also involved in a legal battle with Burton, which I accepted as settlement on my remaining claims.
Along the way, he has made many, many counterclaims. When I posted an update on the case at my old blog, he sued me for defamation. In the final settlement, we included a clause where he has to post a bond that can be used to pay my legal fees on any future claims he tries to file. If he does that again, he will have to cover my legal fees with an pre-funded escrow account, in case the judge rules against his claims and rules that he has to pay my legal fees, again.
Again, please carefully note that all of this is simply a recitation of facts. I went to great lengths in our calcified and expensive court system to establish these as facts rather than accusations.
Occasionally, I update a post about this because part of the reason I went through the trouble of filing the lawsuit and seeing it through was to create a documented record and confirmation of these actions. Certainly, for small scale white collar fraud, our courts provide little support for basic restitution. It is up to you to fund the process of making your legal claims and then it is up to you to figure out how to get paid on your judgments, which can include more legal costs. It is very easy for these sorts of things to get lost in the shadows. It isn’t easy to rectify that, but I owe it to honest business people to stand up, be heard, acknowledge that I was a victim, and describe what happened and who did it.
The court system makes that very difficult to do. Many people are victimized every day in this country because of the lack of transparency about white collar fraud.
There are criminal charges now. Below are the mug shots from their initial arrest. Those charges were dropped and a new case was brought. I think maybe the current case has been narrowed so that it is just against him, and not his wife.
Please make a distinction here. My civil claims against him were confirmed by a jury and by the Arizona Court of Appeals. The current charges that have been brought by the State of Arizona are still just that - charges. The crimes in the current case are still just allegations which will either need to be settled or go before a jury.
Here is a link to the case history on the current charges.