North Texas Man Sentenced in Fictional Disney Scheme
SHERMAN, TX—A 35-year-old Plano, Texas man has been sentenced to federal prison for defrauding investors in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Thomas W. Lucas, Jr., was convicted on Feb. 13, 2015, of seven counts of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement to the FBI and was sentenced to 210 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant.
According to information presented in court, from 2006 to 2010, Lucas devised and executed an elaborate scheme to defraud approximately 280 investors out of approximately $20 million by telling them he had insider information regarding a Walt Disney resort and theme parks planned for the North Texas area. Lucas’s scheme to defraud solicited two types of investors—those that invested in options to purchase land supposedly near the Walt Disney property and those that actually purchased land supposedly near the Walt Disney property. While information presented in Court showed tens of millions of dollars more were raised based on Lucas’s fraudulent Disney information, the value of the land purchased was subtracted to determine the overall loss amount of approximately $20 million. The 65 investors that invested in options to purchase land lost all of their money invested, which was slightly over $8 million, and received no interest in land.
According to Lucas, the Disney Resort and Theme Park was originally set 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 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. Lucas was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sep. 11, 2013.
Lucas was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $8,456,360.00 to the investors who invested in options to purchase land, and was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Eason and J. Andrew Williams.