News 4 Investigates: List of slighted companies grows, as others voice support for billionaire MO Wine Country developer
AUGUSTA, Mo. (KMOV) -- A News 4 Investigation into a development in Missouri’s wine country has been garnering a lot of reaction, and is one of the top articles on our website.
A number of local companies claimed they were not being fully paid for the work they did for a billionaire developer in Augusta. Now, the list of local companies who said they were slighted out of tens of thousands of dollars has grown.
But, News 4 is also hearing from some people who said they still have hope for the good this development might bring.
“I think there’s a lot of positive that’s happened in this little town so far,” said Kelly Dolan, owner/operator of the Bed and Breakfast The H.S. Clay House.
She remains encouraged about the promised investments of developer David Hoffmann in Augusta. But Thursday, News 4 Investigates told you about a number of companies who claimed they hadn’t been fully paid for work they’d done for the Hoffmanns.
In addition to three lawsuits, News 4 learned of another company taking legal action. Reinhold Electric placed a lien on a Hoffmann-owned property, suing a general contractor hired by the Hoffmanns for lack of payment.
But we’ve also heard from some who say they have been paid. One email sent to News 4 Investigates read: “Our family-owned company did a $10 million transaction with the Hoffmanns. They were upfront and honest throughout and we were paid every dime.”
Another came from a general contractor who claimed his subcontractors were taken care of:
“They were paid timely, and in full,” he wrote.
“We have had over 200 subcontractors working for us,” said Don Simon, the Hoffmanns’ CEO of Missouri Operations. He told News 4 Investigates that some contractors weren’t paid in full because the work wasn’t completed or there was damage to their property.
“We have had our share of hiccups; we are $60 million into this development and coming up through construction workforce. I think there are things that are beyond both parties control and it’s how you solve it that makes the difference,” he said.
Yet some people have raised question about Simon himself. He has two felony convictions, one in the late 90′s for stealing and the other in 2012 for writing a bad check. Charging documents state it was in the amount of $5,800 from a non-existent account.
“For someone who says should you be in charge of the finances given that record, what would your response be?” asked Chief Investigative Reporter Lauren Trager.
“What I do is approve jobs, I don’t write checks, so I don’t know what this has to do with development in Augusta,” Simon responded.
News 4 Investigates also asked Simon about other updates on proposed plans. They’d said previously a new golf course and hotel would have broken ground by now.
“Them are still in the design phase and we really don’t have a timeline on them,” Simon said.
In the meantime, Kelly said she’s still encouraged.
“I’ve seen examples of them being good neighbors. Absolutely,” she said.
As long as Augusta remains Augusta: “Just don’t change the name.”
Kelly and some other neighbors told News 4 they do have some concerns if Augusta were to grow too big that infrastructure, like the sewer and roads, may not be able to handle the big planned developments.
A number of people in town said though they couldn’t talk to us because they had signed non-disclosure agreements with the Hoffmann companies.
We’ve been gathering new details. You can contact Lauren Trager on this or any story by emailing Investigates@kmov.com or Lauren.Trager@kmov.com.
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