When Donald and Elaine Henderson first drove by a vacant lot at the Creekside subdivision in Green Valley, they envisioned their retirement home in this picturesque resort community.
Now, just mentioning the memory makes Henderson angry."We have bad feelings there. It's a dirty rotten deal. It makes you sick," he said.
The Hendersons are among four homeowners and several construction contractors who had dealings with St. George land developer Edward Milton Burgess and Creekside Village Development, state documents said.
According to a petition issued by the state Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, Burgess posed as a general contractor in signing purchase agreements, negotiating home-construction plans, and hiring subcontractors. He didn't pay some of the contractors who filed liens against the homes, preventing the homeowners from taking title, the petition said.
On one home, the liens totaled $274,598, the division said. And in another instance a roofing contractor was paid, but the work didn't pass inspection and leaked water.
In Henderson's case, he never built a home because a year after purchasing his lot he discovered Burgess had deeded the lot to someone else.
"We never got our money back," said Henderson, who has since built a home in nearby Bloomington Hills.
The petition accuses Burgess of two counts of contracting without a license and asks for $1,000 on the first offense and $2,000 for each additional offense.
Licensing investigators turned their findings on the Creekside subdivision over to the Washington County attorney last October for criminal prosecution on felony theft and fraud charges. But so far, nothing has been filed.
Calls to the county attorney this week were not returned.
In a response to the licensing action, Burgess denies the allegations in the petition, saying the state inaccurately describes the events that took place.
"I am hoping for a hearing where I can bring proof of my denials" of contracting without a license, Burgess told the Deseret News.
He also said the petition exaggerates the situation.
"I just went broke. There is nothing I can do or say about it. I am desperately trying to get the people taken care of who have been hurt through it all."
He said he had borrowed a lot of money and that sales slowed down when creditors came to call.
Burgess has filed for bankruptcy, listing a total debt of $1.98 million, division investigators said. The bankruptcy protects Burgess from creditors and homeowners seeking title to their property. One homeowner has filed a civil lawsuit against Burgess.