That was only the beginning of the snow job.
On Tuesday, Alabama-based promoter Bryan K. Robinson pleaded guilty to felony securities fraud in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence. He will have to repay $7 million in restitution to Alabama investors in a variety of real estate schemes involving a similar proposal there.
Is anybody really surprised?
Instead of the “snowy mountainsides and fairytale endings” promised on DreamScape Mountain, a land “where people find their dreams come true,” Robinson took more than 40 Alabama investors for their money, and probably some in Texas.
Robinson “engaged in a course of business which operated as a fraud,” Alabama Securities Commission director Joseph Borg said in a statement: “Robinson sought to profit by stealing millions of dollars from over 40 Alabama investors who trusted him with their life savings.”
It was clear early that promoters had little backing. They actually came through here three times, pitching the idea in 2013 with a six-hour concert and fireworks show, promising to make Fort Worth the “family entertainment capital.”
But they emailed the announcement to news outlets from a plain, personal Gmail account. Texas and Alabama business leaders said they hadn't heard any specifics about the plans, and nobody had inquired about land or utilities for a 5,000-acre theme park.
All this from a company that didn't own any land, hadn't made a hit movie or created a cartoon character and had never built anything but expectations.
DreamScape Mountain, set for a 2020 opening, was supposed to include a snowy mountain for snowboarding and bobsledding based on “winterland village” artworks by the late artist Thomas Kinkade. Other sections would include New York City, a Hollywood “Tinseltown,” a storybook land and “Stories of America's West.”
But the charter was from Wyoming and Robinson's investment firm was 6 days old. The company was registered at the same post office box as the Retail Traders Network, a website and radio show promising investors they'd “never have to worry about another job.”
According to court documents quoted by the Florence, Ala., Times Daily, Robinson took money from 42 investors for the proposed Alabama park.
The money went for personal spending, other investments and “to repay in Ponzi-style payment monies to other investors,” according to the court documents.
Robinson took advantage of some good people here. One company executive said he sensed a “gathering of Christians” in Dallas-Fort Worth and wanted to “redefine the family film market.”
The Christ Chapel Bible Church symphony played at the concert and fireworks show. Evangelical leaders, city officials and business leaders appeared at events. (Some said privately they didn't see a sound business plan.)
I hope you didn't.