Suspects in Grand County real estate develoment theft case plead not guilty
November 19, 2010
Two men suspected of having wrangled home buyers’ loan payments without delivering finished construction work at a Highway 34 subdivision across from Lake Granby were arraigned on charges of seven counts of theft on a class 3 felony and seven counts of theft on a class 4 felony.
ADS Builders principals James Barnett, 49, of Westminster and Christopher Foster, 37, of Parker both pleaded not guilty to all counts on Nov. 15.
Both Foster and Barnett were present at the 14th Judicial District Court proceeding, but each of their attorneys, Jim Kreutz of Denver for Foster and Robert McAllister of Centennial for Barnett, phoned in for the hearing.
“Hey gentlemen on the phone, I accommodated you this time, but my philosophy is: Don’t take a case in Grand County if you don’t want to come to Grand County,” Judge Mary Hoak said to the attorneys. “I expect you to appear on all future times or there will be a motion to continue.”
At the request of Deputy District Attorney Heather Shwayder Hughes, a four week trial was arranged, starting on May 2; whereas McAllister would have settled for a one week trial and Kreutz said two weeks would be sufficient.
Shwayder Hughes said she had 20 witnesses lined up.
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“I reviewed all the evidence presented by the district attorney,” said McAllister, post-hearing. “On the 14 counts, for the witnesses on each of those counts, only one even knows him (Barnett),” he said. McAllister said the not guilty plea is “based on the fact that there is no credible evidence to support the charges against him.”
Barnett was president of ADS Builders, which had companion companies Mile High Construction and Legacy Construction Services, all based in Broomfield. A year-long county sheriff’s investigation alleges that the suspects received about $2 million from closing costs and builder deposits drawn from homebuyers’ loans, but never finished (and in some cases, never started) building investors’ homes with that money. The affidavit for the arrest warrant of Barnett and Foster listed the homebuyers of 31 homes in a sub-community of the Colorado Anglers Club, the buyers of which acquired their loans through National City Bank.
The Grand County investigation focused on The Colorado Anglers Club, although other smaller ADS projects in Grand County were also mentioned in court documents. Nearly half a million dollars was never paid to subcontractors and suppliers who worked on the project, according to the investigator’s report.
McAllister concedes there were “a lot of unpaid bills,” as a result of the abandoned construction, but said the abandonment was “due to the fact the banks quit financing these projects.”
Barnett had been arrested on warrant in Arizona, bonded out, then returned to Colorado to face charges. He was placed in Grand County jail on April 12, then released with the understanding that if he does not return for court proceedings, he could be placed in jail with a $50,000 bond. The same terms apply to Foster.
Foster’s attorney Jim Kreutz did not return a phone call on Monday for comment on this story.