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.

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