Warner Robins development company files federal lawsuit over allegedly botched loan

bpurser@macon.comOctober 3, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- A Warner Robins development company has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against federal and state regulators, two failed banks and the former bank representatives who handled a $3.5 million loan that was allegedly botched.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by Peach Blossom Development Co. against the FDIC as receiver of Piedmont Community Bank; Rob Braswell, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance; Mountain Heritage Bank; and Piedmont’s former president, Mickey Parker, and former chief executive officer, Drew Hulsey.

The lawsuit seeks damages as to be determined by the court following a jury trial. The lawsuit also seeks payment of attorney’s fees and litigation costs.

Peach Blossom, owned by Thomas A. Brightman, develops properties into subdivisions and retail and office spaces in Middle Georgia. Piedmont agreed to an acquisition and development loan for the development of property on South Houston Lake Road in Warner Robins, while Mountain Heritage was solicited by Piedmont to purchase a portion of the loan, the lawsuit states.

As a result of the “meltdown of the financial world,” the lawsuit states both Piedmont and Mountain Heritage experienced financial difficulties. Mountain Heritage “balked” at renewing the development company’s loan -- leaving Piedmont obligated to finance the entire loan, which it could not legally do, the lawsuit states.

Left with what Piedmont deemed as a bad loan, Piedmont called the loan due and refused to further fund the development project, the lawsuit states.

When the loan was called, the development company had withdrawn $1 million of the loan value, with $2.5 left available, the lawsuit states.

“By refusing to allow Peach Blossom to draw the full amount of the loan, Piedmont prevented Peach Blossom from continuing development of the project,” the lawsuit states. “And, further, by failing to fund the loan as contemplated, Mountain Heritage caused Piedmont to be unable to provide Peach Blossom with the full amount of the loan.”

As a result, the lawsuit alleges Peach Blossom suffered damages in excess of $3 million.

The FDIC and Georgia Department of Banking and Finance allowed both banks to continue to make unsafe loans, the lawsuit alleges. It also claims Parker and Hulsey, who solicited the development company’s business and controlled the loan, misrepresented Piedmont’s ability to finance the loan and fund the development and to renew the underlying loan.

Peach Blossom had planned an office park with a mix of office and retail space on the property located directly across from Sandy Valley Baptist Church on South Houston Lake Road, said Kelly Burke, a Warner Robins attorney representing the development company. The church is located at 1124 South Houston Lake Road.

“It helps people to understand why that project got started and why it stopped,” Burke said of the lawsuit. “It was not the developer who couldn’t do what he promised, but the bank yanked funding out from underneath him.

“It’s just a travesty of the current banking system,” Burke said.

David Barr, spokesman for the FDIC, said the FDIC does not comment on active litigation. Braswell, Parker, Hulsey and representatives of the banks that took over Piedmont and Mountain Heritage’s assets could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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