The Associated Press
PROVO -- Prominent Utah County developer Gary Brinton, owner of the Seven Peaks water park, is being sued by dozens of firms that claim he owes them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In addition, Brinton was named in a $47 million fraud lawsuit by Wells Fargo that alleges he set up and executed a complex straw-buyers scheme.
The most recent lawsuit was filed in 4th District Court in an attempt to collect debts.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., for example, claims Brinton owes $326,997 for tires supplied to Randy's Discount Tire & Auto, a company controlled by Brinton.
Burton Lumber says Brinton owes $82,416 for construction materials used at Brinton's Timpanogos Gateway condominiums in Payson. Geneva Rock seeks $19,893 for service in the same project.
Six contracting companies have filed a petition in federal bankruptcy court to force Brinton and his Northstar Cos. into involuntary bankruptcy. They hope sale of his assets would enable them to recoup the $245,000 they say he owes.
Last week, Bank One joined the bankruptcy proceedings, asserting that Brinton and his wife, Monica, are responsible for $1.8 million in default loans.
Wells Fargo claims Brinton used the good credit of 30 friends and family members to secure some $47 million to pay off his construction debts.
Brinton promised to pay them $30 a month for each loan he secured under their names. Brinton then agreed to make the monthly loan payments using rental income from condominium complexes he was building.
Brinton, an attorney and licensed real-estate broker, contends in court filings that bank employees told him the deal was legal.
Brinton's attorney, Charles Hanna, said his client hopes to use Trafalga and Seven Peaks water park as collateral to refinance the $47 million debt to Wells Fargo.
Hanna was quoted in a copyright story in The Deseret News.
Several former employees of Brinton question that plan, saying Brinton's debts go very deep. Stephanie Petersen, who worked for Brinton as director of revenues for Seven Peaks and Trafalga before being laid off in October, said Brinton took more and more money from Seven Peaks' coffers to help pay for construction projects.
Another Seven Peaks employee, who feared he would be fired if his name was used, told The Deseret News that water and electricity was shut off at the water park last week.
Hanna confirmed that Seven Peaks and Trafalga are both in foreclosure and that Seven Peaks may be put up for auction in late December.
He said Brinton hopes to sell off other properties to save Seven Peaks before it is auctioned.
This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A1.