TARGET 8: Lake Residents Accuse Man of Swindling Money, Property
LINN CREEK, Mo. - Tim Hair said he and his business partner, Tim Campbell, are out $20,000 after selling a dock to a man named Dan Francis. Many people KOMU 8 News spoke with in the Lake of the Ozarks area said Francis is notorious for not paying in full for business transactions.
"All I get every time I bring this name up of Dan Francis is eyes rolling... people looking at me going oh my," Hair said.
Hair and Campbell buy and sell property in addition to owning their own businesses. They said they bought a 17-well dock from a condominium resort company and sold it through Dock Realty in Osage Beach.
"We listed the dock with somebody that you hear on the radio all the time... and claims to have a very high... standing of business," Hair said.
Dock Realty connected Campbell and Hair with Francis's company, Dock Brokers, back in January 2012. Campbell and Hair signed a contract on January 17 to sell the dock to Francis for $27,000. The two asked for $7,000 at the time of signing to go into escrow with Dock Realty. Despite this, Campbell and Hair told KOMU 8 News there was still no money in escrow by January 23.
"I'd say the first red flag was when we missed our first date," Campbell said.
Dock Realty did issue a check for $7,000 to Campbell and Hair on February 6, but Dock Brokers had already missed paying the balance due by the closing date, which the parties agreed would be no later than January 21. This prompted an addendum to the contract to extend the closing date to March 15.
"We're getting the run-around again... which is all we ever seem to get," Hair said.
The new terms also gave Dock Brokers the right to take possession of the dock before paying in full.
Francis did take the dock and moved it from the water at the Linn Creek Campground to Standing Rock Cove.
Campbell and Hair told KOMU 8 News they never got another payment after that. The two said they have since attempted to collect the final payment, but they are not the only individuals Francis owes.
KOMU 8 News found Missouri Case.net reports showing pending criminal charges for theft against Francis. This includes one charge for property or services worth $25,000 or more. Francis said he sold his company, Ozark Village Dock Contracting, in 2010 after it had been struggling for about two years.
According to the Camden County assessor, Francis has called in and signed personal property declarations for Ozark Village Dock Contracting. The Camden County Collector's office also said Ozark Village Dock Contracting owes more than $1,000 in personal property taxes in the last two years.
Court records show Francis owes Harris Home Interiors in Camdenton more than $10,000 in addition to court fees. Vice President of Harris Home Interiors Tim King said the business decorated Francis's home, and he never paid for it.
Tim King said he asked the court if it would collect the payment, "and they [said] 'No, you have to collect the money.' Well, we cannot get any money out of him. That has been the problem all along," King said.
King also said he cannot repossess the items Harris furnished in the home. He said Francis sold the home furnished to someone else.
Despite these cases, Francis volunteers as a judge for Missouri DECA, a program to prepare students for a career in business. Francis asked KOMU 8 News to contact a former supervisor at DECA to vouch for his character. KOMU 8 News contacted Julie Lyman, a former DESE employee who worked for the DECA program. Lyman said Francis has provided good service to the organization for about 30 years.
"That says something about a person's willingness to give back," Lyman said.
Francis refused multiple requests from me to talk on camera about the deal with Campbell and Hair and other judgments and suits against him. He said in an e-mail to KOMU 8 News that Campbell and Hair agreed through "dealing with Dock Realty that they were fine with the initial payment from [Dock Brokers], as long as [Dock Brokers] could remove the dock" from the Linn Creek Campground.
Francis also said Campbell and Hair were under pressure from the campground to move it, and the dock was in danger of being damaged due to low water.
Campbell and Hair deny these claims, and Campbell told KOMU 8 News the campground never pressured him or Hair to remove the dock. Campbell also said Ameren UE does lower the water level in the lake the dock sat in during the winter. Despite this, Campbell said if Francis was worried about damages associated with this, he had plenty of time to move it. Campbell said Francis moved the dock about two weeks after the addendum to the original contract provided permission to do so.
No one at Dock Realty would speak to KOMU 8 News on camera, but its attorney, Andrew Curley, e-mailed to say the company advised Campbell and Hair not to accept the addendum's terms that Dock Brokers could take possession of the dock before the two received the final payment. In addition to this, Curley's response stated neither Campbell nor Hair signed a listing agreement with Dock Realty.
On behalf of Dock Realty, Curley also said the company sent a copy of that agreement via U.S. Mail on November 8, 2011. Campbell and Hair deny these claims. In fact, Hair said he never provided Dock Realty with a mailing address.
Curley's response also maintains Dock Realty has been in business at the Lake of the Ozarks for about 10 years and that it has business involvement with the majority of all the dock builders at the lake. Furthermore, the response said Dock Realty has approximately six dock listings involving Dock Brokers.
Dock Realty also said it cannot be held responsible for the unpaid balance to Campbell and Hair according to the original contract. It states: "This contract is solely between the buyer and seller. Both parties agree to not hold Dock Realty liable for a breach of contract by either party."
Francis also said in his e-mail to KOMU 8 News he has not filed bankruptcy and is trying to solve outstanding issues with vendors and clients.
As for Campbell and Hair, they wrote a statement to the Camden County Sheriff's Department.
"We turned it into the deputy, and hopefully they are going to be able to get it to the prosecutor, and the prosecutor will stop this from happening to anyone else," Hair said. "I will probably really change my whole outlook on how a lot of this is conducted with people, you know? I will probably sell on my own from now on."
Campbell and Hair said they do not understand why they did not meet with Francis in person to sign neither the original contract nor the addendum. Campbell and Hair also said they are not interested in seeing the dock's current state. The two are only concerned with collecting the remaining balance.