CANTON, Ga. (CN) - A construction company owner claims in court that his business partner had him arrested on bogus charges of trying to kill his own stepmother, so the partner, a felon, could sell $300,000 worth of his equipment while he was in jail.
Robert A. Sutton sued Robert Berdue, of Acworth, Ga., and Berdue's company Southeast Concrete Solutions, in Cherokee County Court.
Sutton says he dissolved his own company, Precision Pouring, in 2010, but retained ownership of his trucks and equipment.
During the summer and fall of 2010, Sutton says, he and Berdue "discussed using the trucks in a joint venture with Berdue's corporation, Southeast Concrete."
"Defendants represented to plaintiff that they could assist in selling the equipment to raise money and/or use in a joint venture with his business," the complaint states. "As a result of said representation, plaintiff gave defendants access and possession to the trucks, equipment and tools."
But Sutton says that wasn't enough for Berdue, whom he claims has "an extensive criminal history, including convictions for rape, forgery and theft."
He claims that Berdue swiped other equipment and tools of his from a jobsite, and though Sutton "repeatedly asked Berdue about the whereabouts of the equipment and tools," Berdue never told him that he had taken them.
Then, Sutton says, "On or about December 31, 2010, Sutton was arrested by the Roswell Police Department for allegedly committing the offense of criminal solicitation for murder. Sutton was detained in the Fulton County Jail until a bond was granted and subsequently released on January 23, 2011.
"The arrest was based on information provided to the Roswell Police Department by a confidential informant. The 'informant' was subsequently identified as Berdue.
"On information and belief, Berdue has served on numerous occasions as a confidential informant for various federal and state agencies.
"Berdue told the Roswell Police that Sutton had asked for him to arrange for the murder of Sutton's stepmother living in Kentucky.
"Berdue told the Roswell Police that Sutton would financially benefit from his father's estate if his stepmother was deceased."
But in fact, Sutton says, "Sutton knew that he would not receive any financial benefit if his stepmother was deceased and never stated otherwise to Berdue.
"Berdue has an extensive criminal history, including convictions for rape, forgery and theft.
"Berdue fabricated Sutton's alleged murder for hire scheme to cover up his conversion and theft of Sutton's equipment and tools."
Sutton claims that while he sat in jail, Berdue sold "some of the trucks, equipment and tools" to McClure Design and Build Contractors, which is not a party to the case, and that Berdue sold the rest of Sutton's stuff to others, without his permission.
"Most of the trucks, equipment or tools wrongfully appropriated by Berdue and/or Southeast Concrete were either damages or never returned to Sutton," the complaint states. "At the time of the conversion, the fair market value of the trucks, equipment and tools was an amount of at least $300,000."
Sutton says he didn't even know his stuff had been stolen "until he bonded out of jail, approximately a month after his arrest."
In short, Sutton says: "Defendants schemed to deceive plaintiff and get access and possession of the trucks, equipment and tools. In furtherance of this scheme, defendant Berdue falsely accused plaintiff of a crime so that he could dispose of the equipment while plaintiff was in custody."
Sutton wants his stuff back, and damages and punitive damages for conversion and fraud.
He is represented by John D. Stone of Norcross.
Cherokee County is north of Atlanta.