Dobson, Gott Found Guilty On 7 Of 12 Land Fraud Counts; Face Sentencing Aug. 8

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Federal Court jury, after deliberating a day and a half, late Tuesday morning found Josh Dobson and Paul Gott guilty on seven of 12 counts involving an alleged land fraud in Dade County, Ga.

They face sentencing by Judge Curtis Collier on Aug. 8 at 2 p.m. They remain free on bond until the sentencing.

Dobson and Gott were found guilty on seven identical counts and not guilty on five other identical counts.

They were ruled guilty on the most serious charge - that they were involved in a land fraud conspiracy.

The pair were found guilty of counts involving deals in which "gift letters" were used. They were found not guilty on charges in which they claimed that they were providing money to buyers as part of "buy-back option" arrangements.

A number of buyers testified that they were told they could get valuable lots at The Preserve at Johnson's Crook at Rising Fawn, Ga., without making a down payment and without making mortgage payments.

The buyers said the transactions went through as promised - with money coming from the Southern Group for the down payment. They said the mortgage payments continued for just over a year, then they stopped and the banks started calling.

Several said they had to file bankruptcy.

Lot sales to the "buyers" were at prices as high as $250,000. One person who wound up with two lots said he cannot sell them now for $4,000.

Both Dobson and Gott took the witness stand in their own defense, denying they were involved in any fraud. They said the payments to lot buyers stopped because the economy went sour.

They were found guilty of count 1 - conspiracy, counts 5, 6, 7 and 8 and 11 and 12.

Count 5 involves Gott wiring $22,000 to a woman in Florida who posed as the "cousin" of two different buyers. Count 6 involves Gott wiring $40,130 to the same woman on March 1, 2010. Count 7 involves an email from Gott to a Head Start director in California who had good credit and agreed to be a "buyer" on Jan. 26, 2010. Count 8 involves Gott wiring $22,000 to a Virginia relative of the California woman on Jan. 26, 2010.

Counts 11 and 12 were for money laundering. Count 11 involves a deposit to Southern Group for $166,487 on Feb. 23, 2010, and Count 12 involves a deposit to Southern Mountain Resorts for $67,000 on April 29, 2010.

Prosecutors were John MacCoon and Perry Piper.

The investigation was by the FBI and IRS agents.

The jury verdicts were taken by Federal Magistrate Court Judge Suzanne Lee in the absence of Judge Collier, who presided at the lengthy trial.


Chattanooga Man With 23 Felonies Gets 15 Years In Federal Prison

A Chattanooga man who prosecutors say has 40 prior convictions, including 23 felonies, was sentenced on Thursday to 15 years in federal prison. Darien Houston, 43, appeared before Judge Curtis Collier. Prosecutor Chris Poole had asked for the high end of the range - 220 months, saying Houston is a member of the Vice Lords gang. He said the felonies include burglary, possession ... (click for more)

Police Blotter: Thieves Roll Out Of Lookout Valley Walmart With The Goods

Police said thieves in two recent cases carried stacks of goods out of the Lookout Valley Walmart without bothering to pay. In one case, two black females had $313.84 in groceries. They presented a SNAP card, but it was declined. The women, who had the items in two large black purses, then walked out and left in a red Dodge Ram pickup truck. * * * In another case at ... (click for more)

A Slap In The Face To Local Police Applicants

Little Andy has once again shown what he thinks about the Chattanooga Police Department by ignoring all the applicants from within the department. There were several great candidates within the police department that had as much experience as the chosen one from 1,000 miles away. This is a slap in the face for any officer who is at the Chattanooga Police Department who has aspirations ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: UAW Voices In Detroit

Today we are going to eavesdrop on somewhat of an open conversation that was held far to the north after the United Auto Workers surprisingly dropped a legal challenge with the National Labor Relations Board in Chattanooga the first thing on Monday morning. The NLRB judge certified the VW workers’ February vote to turn away the UAW at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen manufacturing plant ... (click for more)

East Hamilton Beats McMinn, 10-4, For 5-AAA Tourney's Top Seed

East Hamilton put the finishing touches on the seedings for next week’s District 5-AAA baseball tournament at Ooltewah High with a 10-4 victory over McMinn County on Wednesday at Chattanooga State. The win gives the Hurricanes (19-13, 9-3) the No. 1 seed for the tournament, meaning Bradley Central (17-11, 9-3) will be the second seed. With East Hamilton’s win, Walker Valley got ... (click for more)

Taylor Hall's Late Night Basketball Call

It was the midnight call that could change her life. It was the Seattle Storm of the WNBA calling to invite soon-to-graduate UTC senior basketball player Taylor Hall to the Emerald City for a tryout and a possible spot with the pro team. “I have never been one to show a lot of emotion, so I was pretty calm when the call did come in, “said Hall. “But my roommate ... (click for more)