IberiaBank's Fraud Suspect Identified

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, May. 11, 2009 12:00 am  

Dana Washburn

Dana Washburn also owned, until recently, a popular and award-winning boutique for scrapbook enthusiasts called Signed Sealed Delivered on South 52nd Street in Rogers.

In June 2004, when Beau Terre was sold to Behringer Harvard Funds of Dallas, it reportedly comprised 371,083 SF in 36 buildings. The $55.87 million transaction ranked 10th on Arkansas Business’ list of the biggest deals in the state during 2004. How much the Washburns cleared on the sale is not a matter of public record, but a source indicated that it was between $7 million and $8 million before taxes.

When the Business Journal broke the news of the sale, it quoted Colon Washburn as saying that his wife was the “best leasing person in the United States.” She was responsible for the tenant layouts and tenant leasing relations in Beau Terre, he said.

Although it escaped notice in Arkansas, the deal led to a protracted and complicated civil lawsuit in Dallas, where the sale contract required any disputes to be litigated.

Danny Thomas Real Estate Inc. of Little Rock, which brought Behringer Harvard to the table, was forced out as manager of Beau Terre at the end of 2005, after numerous problems with the property and its cash flow became apparent. On Jan. 3, 2006, Kenneth Beirmacher, a partner in the Kane Russell Coleman & Logan law firm in Dallas, sued Behringer Harvard in the District Court of Dallas County on behalf of Danny Thomas Real Estate and DT Capital Group. According to Beirmacher, the management contract on Beau Terre was supposed to be Danny Thomas Real Estate’s reward for bringing the deal to Behringer Harvard.

Behringer Harvard countersued, claiming that Danny Thomas, the Washburns and the Washburns’ broker, Plunkett Boerner & Associates, conspired to misrepresent the Beau Terre property. The problems outlined in the case included leases that weren’t as represented, expenses that had been hidden and, most baffling of all, a building that was missing. Instead of 36 buildings in the Beau Terre development, there were only 35.

“To the extent [Dana Washburn] was this great leasing agent, she certainly did some things that were questionable,” Beirmacher said.

While Danny Thomas is still pursuing its complaint against Behringer Harvard, the Washburns settled their parts of the litigation in 2008. The dollar amounts are not public record, but the time line is:

• On June 2, 2008 — a month after the Washburns borrowed more than $3 million and less than two weeks after they refinanced their second mortgage — they were released from the litigation by Behringer Harvard, indicating they had paid the agreed-upon settlement amount.

• On Sept. 18, five weeks after they refinanced another $600,000 loan from Pulaski Bank, Danny Thomas Real Estate dropped its claim against the Washburns.

Even if the loans were used to pay the settlements, Beirmacher said, Pulaski Bank would have no recourse against Behringer Harvard and Danny Thomas because they had no way of knowing the money was fraudulently obtained. 

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