Nevada company alleges coal investment fraud
by Ralph B. Davis
PIKEVILLE — A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court accuses an Eastern Kentucky coal company and three Letcher County residents with defrauding a Nevada investment firm.
NVZ Capital filed a complaint Sept. 5 against Triton Energy Coal, Hobert Gentry, Bryan Lee Wagner and Ashley Wagner, accusing them of fraud in their efforts to convince the company to invest $250,000 in a coal mining operation.
According to the complaint, filed by Robert R. Waters, Cheryl R. Winn and J. Michael Wells, of the Waters Law Group, of Louisville, Bryan Lee Wagner approached NVZ Capital in March with an offer to invest the money into leasing “a large tract of top-quality coal producing property,” which would be matched by defendants. NVZ wired the money to an account held by Triton Energy April 16.
NVZ says it sought updates about the project over the next two months, but according to the complaint, Bryan Lee Wagner at first only gave “superficial responses” to the company’s request for information, then stopped communicating with NVZ altogether.
“Throught July 2012, NVZ attempted to contact Bryan Lee Wagner many times through telephone, instant messaging, email, letter correspondence and personal visits to both his home and purported work sites in an attempt to meet with him about the status of the project,” the complaint says. “Throughout July 2012, Defendant Bryan Lee Wagner hid himself from NVZ officials and refused to respond to communication or provide any answers to the location of the money invested.”
The complaint further states that efforts to get updates from Gentry and Ashley Wagner were met with a similar response, saying both defendants initially spoke to representatives of the company, but refused to give them any information, then cut off communication.
“Based on the clear behavioral pattern of Hobert Gentry, Ashley Wagner and Bryan Lee Wagner, it has become apparent to NVZ that these defendants, operating in concert with each other and operating through Triton Energy Coal Inc., have defrauded NVZ of … $250,000,” the complaint alleges.
NVZ alleges the defendants committed fraud, misrepresentation, conversion and civil conspiracy, and seeks to be reimbursed the $250,000, as well as awarded punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.
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