When Carol and Jack Tatum pulled into Kanab last September with a moving van, horses and children, ready to move into their new home, they were stunned.
"There was nothing there," said Carol Tatum.She said she and her husband spent their life savings when they bought a 3-acre parcel in the Vermilion Cliffs Estates in this southern Utah town.
"You get married, you plan on starting a new life," she said. "I'm 41, my husband's 47. We have to start all over again."
The man who sold the Tatums their property, Peter Charles McColl, has been charged with one felony count of fraud and nine felony counts of failing to pay subcontractors.
Charges filed in the Kane County Justice Court accuse McColl, who lives in San Diego, and his company, Francis & James Ltd., of selling the Tatums a lot that McColl saidhad a clear title.
But John A. Salazar, an investigator for the Utah Department of Commerce, alleges in an affidavit that the parcel was among a group of lots carrying a $300,000 lien.
McColl, reached by telephone in California, called the charges "absurd . . . I've talked to Salazar and he knows I'm resolving it."
He blamed his problems on a "sour" economy and promised the Tatums would get their house "as quick as I can get the thing done."
McColl also is accused of failing to pay suppliers and contractors for $40,000 in materials in the allotted 120 days.
The Tatums, who met McColl in California, are now living in a model home in the subdivision and don't know when, or if, their house will ever be built.
"You work all your life thinking you'll leave your kids something, and then you have nothing," she said.