SHERMAN, Texas (CN) - A federal jury convicted a Texas man of wire fraud for his role in a phony Texas Disney amusement park scheme that raised $60 million.
Thomas W. Lucas Jr., 35, of Plano, was found guilty Friday afternoon of seven counts of wire fraud and one court of making a false statement to federal agents.
The jury deliberated for less than an hour after a five-day trial.
Lucas raised $60 million from more than 100 investors from 2006 to 2010, according to a September 2013 criminal information. He told investors he had inside information on Walt Disney resorts and theme parks planned in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, prosecutors said.
"Originally, according to Lucas, the Disney Resort and Theme Park was to be called 'The King Ranch Project,' but that changed in 2007 to 'Frontier Disney DFW,' both of which were completely fabricated," prosecutors said in a statement Friday.
"Disney witnesses, including Disney's then-Chairman of Parks and Resorts and executive assistants, testified at the trial that the information presented to investors by Lucas was not authentic and that Disney had never had any intentions of opening a Disney resort and theme park in North Texas at any time."
Lucas made $450,000 in fees and commissions from the land deals that closed on his information. When confronted by federal agents about the scheme, Lucas blamed the Disney information on a now-deceased man he met at a methadone treatment clinic, prosecutors said.
Lucas faces up to 20 years in federal prison. Sentencing has not been scheduled. He also faces investor claims in civil court.
Investor Steven Doores sued Lucas and five of his relatives in Dallas County Court in 2009, alleging Lucas claimed Disney was going to build a park near Fort Worth. The Walt Disney Co. is not a party to that lawsuit.
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