North Texas Man Convicted in Fictional Disney Scheme
SHERMAN, TX—A 35-year-old Plano, Texas man has been found guilty of federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Thomas W. Lucas, Jr., was found guilty by a jury of seven counts of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement to the FBI today following a five-day trial before U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant. The jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning their verdict.
According to information presented in court, from 2006 to 2010, Lucas devised and executed an elaborate scheme to defraud more than 100 investors out of approximately $60 million by telling them he had insider information regarding a Walt Disney resort and theme parks planned for the North Texas area. Originally, according to Lucas, the Disney Resort and Theme Park was to be called, “The King Ranch Project,” but that changed in 2007 to “Frontier Disney DFW,” both of which were completely fabricated. Disney witnesses, including Disney’s then Chairman of Parks and Resorts and executive assistants, testified at the trial that the information presented to investors by Lucas was not authentic and that Disney had never had any intentions of opening a Disney resort and theme park in north Texas at any time. Lucas pocketed approximately $450,000 from fees and commissions gleaned from the various land deals closed on his fraudulent Disney information. When confronted by the FBI about the scheme, Lucas falsely blamed the Disney information on a man he had previously met at a methadone rehabilitation clinic, who is now deceased.
On Sep. 11, 2013, Lucas was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Texas and charged with multiple counts of wire fraud and providing a false statement to federal agents.
Lucas faces up to 20 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not been set.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Eason and J. Andrew Williams.