Was it the sinking economy or a real estate scam?

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

Posted by Phil Riggan - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Donald Lacey left the force 8 years ago to start a real estate company and several investment groups.

Last year he started gathering investors to buy, restore and sell older homes in the city.

Several sources tell me he's now under federal investigation and I've uncovered numerous civil cases filed against him.

"I feel very duped, it is embarrassing in a sense," said Lisa Avram.

Avram is not alone.. She and at least 30 others attended a meeting last year at this new subdivision in Hanover County about an investment opportunity.

Courtney Moates Paulk represents a Richmond couple who does not want to be identified. They were also at the meeting.

"They thought that they were going to be giving the money or loaning the money to Mr. Lacy's company, and then Mr. Lacey would take that money and loan it to a third party builder," said Courtney Moates Paulk.

They gave Donald Lacey and his company capital funding consulting $200,000 to buy properties, renovate and then re-sell. The family thought it would get its money back with interest.

But the payments stopped coming... They filed a lawsuit which alleged...

"He never took the money that was loaned to him or to this company and invested it in those properties," said Courtney Moates Paulk.

The suit alleges Lacey actually loaned the money to his own companies. Never renovating any of the properties.

A Richmond judge agreed awarding Paulk's clients $663,000.

"For fraud, punitive damages and security violations against Mr. Lacey," said Courtney Moates Paulk.

In her order the judge said Lacey engaged in a pattern of conscious and callous misconduct.

Lisa Avram gave Lacey's company $113,000. Some of that money was supposed to go into a house in Church Hill.

"It's a lot of money and a lot of lives have been impacted by this. Friends are losing homes," said Avram.

We called and tried to reach Lacey at his Hanover County home. He did not respond. But his attorney say's don't be quick to judge.

"There are some people who have adopted a hysterical view of this situation and find it far easier to point their fingers at Mr. Lacey and vilify him," said Lacey's attorney, Steven Benjamin. "Then to do something constructive to try to rescue the remaining investments."

When asked if Lacey was running a scheme, Benjamin said "that is a ludicrous suggestion."

Investors like Avram now have one question: "What happened to our money."

"Nobody can answer that question. Mr. Lacey has not been able to answer that question and to my knowledge nobody has been able to find the money," said Courtney Moates Paulk.

An attorney for Capital Funding Consulting says Lacey is no longer a member and the group is trying to get the investors their money back.

Through his attorney, Mr. Lacey says he's doing everything he can to make his investors whole.

Late this evening we heard from at least one investor who says she doesn't blame Lacey she blames the economy.

Lacey's had five judgements against in him in civil court and there are three other cases still pending.

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