A Texas man was convicted of duping investors with tales of a fake Walt Disney theme park and resort project.
Thomas W. Lucas Jr., a member of a Dallas-area real estate famiy, was convicted on seven wire fraud counts and one count of making false statements to the FBI. It took a North Texas jury less than a half day to come back with a verdict in the case.
Court documents say the 40-year-old Lucas showed investors fake and forged sketches, maps and site plans to build a future theme park. Lucas called the plans “Frontier Disney Dallas-Fort Worth. The investors complained they overpaid for land in two Texas counties, which they were planning to flip once Disney made the announcement of the park.
Partnerships, joint ventures and limited liability companies were set to begin acquiring land. Lucas defrauded investors out of nearly $14 million. Lucas told these investors that he had a source saying Disney was planning to build the park in the metro area. Disney repeatedly denied those claims.
When the FBI questioned Lucas on the source, he gave them a name of a dead man.
In a statement, Lucas' uncle Harry "Beau" Lucas said the land parcels his nephew sold "are superior long-term investments." He said, however, that he and his family understand the investors' anger because his nephew "manipulated relatives and associates in his own family's company."
The Associated Press contributed to this report