A Plano man has been jailed for more than 17 years after he was caught conning investors out of more than $20 million over a fake Walt Disney theme park and resort in North Texas. Thomas W Lucas Jr was ordered to pay $8.4 million in restitution.
According to prosecutors the 35-years-old man has defrauded more than 280 investors between 2006 and 2010. He claimed to the investors that he has got some inside information about the park and is looking for 65 people who can buy land in Collin and Denton counties.
The investors were even told that the land they would purchase will be on the edge of the future park and they had hoped to sell it on to developers for a profit after Disney announced the park.
Court documents revealed that the investors were shown fake and forged artistic impressions, maps and site plans related to ‘Frontier Disney Dallas-Fort Worth’.
Prosecutors said Lucas earned more than $448,000 in sales commissions and fees from the land deals. It was also found that he spent some of that money on a 2007 holiday to London, where he was chauffeur-driven around the city. He also ate at celebrity restaurants and went nightclubbing with VIP entry at a cost of more than $37,000.
US District Judge Amos Mazzant said in a statement that actions of Lucas caused a lot of damage to a lot of people. Lucas was sentenced n Tuesday to 17-and-a-half years in federal prison. Lucas in a brief statement said he was ‘heartbroken and ashamed’ for whatever he has done.
Jimmy Dean, who was one of those people who suffered the losses, told KXII TV, “It would be easier, as long as I didn't get shot, to be robbed with a gun. Because you can see that happening. You know what their intent is”.