Snowmass woman, founder of aid group says investors bilked her
A Snowmass Village woman who helped found a renowned international aid group with John Denver says she was bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by a group of California investors.The group faces allegations of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, fraud, civil conspiracy and breach of contract, among others. A 52-page lawsuit filed Friday in Pitkin County district court paints Marcia O’Hagan as the victim of shadowy investors who are trying to take her home. The lawsuit lists as defendants seven individuals and four companies, one of which it says is fictitious.But at least one of the companies, Harmony Equity, is apparently real: It sued O’Hagan three days before she filed her case, alleging she has failed to meet the repayment terms of a promissory note.The conflicts all started with the advice of a friend, according to O’Hagan’s lawsuit.Jobless after a six-figure consulting contract ended and mired in debt, she started missing $6,500 monthly mortgage payments on her $1.3 million condominium in Snowmass Village.”A friend of [hers] suggested that O’Hagan contact [Ronald] Dunham, the chairman of Springboard Planning & Advisory Group,” the lawsuit says.Dunham was willing to help O’Hagan because of her background, according to the court papers.In 1977, she assisted in the creation of The Hunger Project, which was co-founded by Denver, the musician and Aspen icon. The aid group works to improve the health and food production of residents in 8,000 villages around the world.”Dunham stated that he could arrange for one of his companies to fund O’Hagan money to save [her] home from foreclosure, to pay off various creditors and other liens against O’Hagan’s home,” the lawsuit says. “Dunham stated that because of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, he would be forced to charge more interest than a ‘normal loan’ for the temporary $130,000 loan, but that both sides ultimately ‘would win.'”He also allegedly agreed to clean up her credit rating so O’Hagan could obtain a low-interest refinancing of her mortgage.The terms of the promissory note required her to pay the entire sum in one payment two weeks later, along with interest, the lawsuit says. The agreement also gave Dunham’s company an ownership stake in the house and said that, in effect, it would own the house outright in the event O’Hagan defaulted.According to the lawsuit, the Snowmass Village resident’s troubles were just beginning.Two weeks after signing the agreement at an Aspen law firm, Dunham and a partner called O’Hagan and told her to go back to the law office. She apparently then signed another promissory note, “which evidenced O’Hagan’s promise to now pay the sum of $394,723.30.” Repayment of that loan was due by February 2009, according to the lawsuit. And she signed a “quitclaim” deed, a form used to transfer property.The lawsuit says she never received “a check or any money or other consideration totaling $394,723.30.” The promissory notes and the quitclaim deed meant “O’Hagan had given Dunham … the benefit of approximately $750,000 after having only received approximately $129,000 of value,” the court papers say. Her credit score was never improved, either, she contends.Reached in California, Dunham said he didn’t know anything about the lawsuit. Asked if he knew O’Hagan, he said he had heard of her.”But there’s somebody else who did that transaction, not me,” Dunham said.Told that the lawsuit details conversations he allegedly had with O’Hagan, he said, “I have no clue what you’re talking about.” Dunham also wouldn’t confirm he was the chairman of Springboard, though a reporter was connected to him after calling a number on the company’s website.O’Hagan and her lawyer declined to comment.According to the lawsuit, several months after O’Hagan signed for the nearly $400,000 loan, Dunham’s son-in-law asked her if she had made arrangements to repay it by the end of 2004. O’Hagan replied that she thought she had until 2009, but was told it had to be repaid by Dec. 31, 2004, because the company was getting out of all real estate deals.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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