P.O. Box 181
Lone Jack, MO 64070
February 10, 2020
The Honorable Peter J. Messitte
United States District Court Judge
United States District Court for the District of Maryland
6500 Cherrywood Lane
Greenbelt, Maryland 20770
- Regarding: In Re Sanctuary Belize Litigation 18-cv-3309-PJM
Dear Judge Messitte,
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify on Friday, February 7, 2020. As a reminder, I testified about the trips I began making to Sanctuary Belize in 2013. I own real estate in several countries and I really liked what I saw at the development.
First Investment in Belize:
On January 12, 2013, I agreed to purchase Lot SR072 for $300,000. Toward that purchase, I paid $150,000 plus $18,750 in tax. I was scheduled to pay the balance off in monthly installments of $1,250 plus $156.25 in tax, for a total monthly payment of $1,406.25. On July 7, 2017, I paid off that balance in full.
Second Investment in Belize:
Later, I returned to Sanctuary Belize. Based on the progress that I saw, I purchased a second property, Lot SR035. The purchase price was $215,000, plus tax of $26,875. I paid the entire price of $241,875 with a single payment.
My total investment at Sanctuary Belize was $579,375. Each time I visited Sanctuary Belize, I appreciated the progress. As a builder, I understood the complexities of building in a third-world country. From my perspective, and what I saw, the developers were doing a remarkable job. Each time I visited the development, the progress made a favorable impression upon me.
Costa Rica Investment:
In 2018, Michael Santos contacted me with news that the developer was going to create a new development in Costa Rica. He told me that he was going to be the lead investor in the project and that he was looking for other investors to join him. It was the same developer, he said, as Sanctuary Belize. Michael and I developed a friendship over the telephone. He visited my home in Kansas City to discuss his plans with the investment. We agreed to visit the property in Costa Rica together with the development team. We visited the Rancho Del Mar property together with other prospective investors and the developer in the spring of 2018.
Based on what I saw in Costa Rica, and based on what I knew about the developer from watching progress at Sanctuary Belize, I joined the group to become a limited investor in Rancho Del Mar. Michael Santos told me that he would be the lead investor, with a contribution of more than $1 million, and that he was also bringing family and friends into the project. He pledged to keep me apprised of the development.
I contributed a check for $750,000 to Newport Land Group. Those funds were earmarked for an investment in the Rancho Del Mar property in Costa Rica. I contributed those funds in July of 2018.
Through, Michael Santos, I learned that the developer expected to close escrow on the property in November of 2018. Then, the FTC litigation began. All of the limited investors joined together in asking the developer to return our funds. The developer was nonresponsive. On advice of counsel, we filed a lawsuit to recoup the funds we provided to Newport Land Group with intention of investing in Rancho Del Mar.
Then the FTC amended its complaint, adding Newport Land Group as a defendant. Since then, $750,000 in investment funds that I earmarked for the Costa Rica project have been frozen in a Newport Land Group bank account. Those funds do not have anything to do with Sanctuary Belize.
As an investor, the FTC action has deteriorated the value of my property in Belize. It has also frozen $750,000 that I deposited with Newport Land Group for the expressed purpose of investing in Rancho Del Mar, Costa Rica. In order to raise the $750,000, I borrowed the entire amount against my personal residence. This investment, that I made in good faith, has put my entire financial future in jeopardy. I am 59 years old, and this investment truly threatens retirement for my wife and me—and the $750,000 investment did not have anything to do with Belize or the FTC allegations. As I testified about my investment in Costa Rica, I may be wrong, but you seemed genuinely surprised that the FTC had taken the extreme action of freezing those funds. They seized limited investor funds without any allegation that those funds had anything to do with Belize.
I implore you to order the FTC to return limited investor funds that I contributed to Newport Land Group for an intended investment in Rancho Del Mar, Costa Rica.