Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 9, 2013

Ex-client sues attorney after business deal turns sour

TRAVERSE CITY — A local attorney is in civil court this week on fraud allegations that stem from a business partnership with a former client turned sour.

Fred Topous Jr. is suing Clarence Gomery, of Gomery and Associates, in 13th Circuit Court. A jury trial began last week.

Gomery approached Topous in late 2009 to purchase the former Mitchell Creek golf course off 3 Mile Road, court documents state. Gomery formed the limited liability company T&G Real Estate Development LLC.

Topous said he paid $510,000 and didn’t receive accounting of the sale. He made numerous demands requesting accounting and an operating agreement, court documents state.

Gomery developed the property into Northern Meadows, a wedding and banquet business and collected an additional $250,000 from Topous, court documents state. T&G Real Estate Development received one payment of $1,500 from Northern Meadows.

“Defendant Gomery has refused to produce any books, records, accountings or the like,” court documents state. Topous’ attorney alleged Gomery “induced” him to invest money in the business and “used the business to host weddings for family members at Plaintiff’s expense.”

Gomery produced an operating agreement in 2011. Topous said his signature was fraudulently obtained. The agreement allotted Gomery 50 percent ownership and 50 percent interest in the property with no monetary investment, according to court documents, and Topous was named responsible for property taxes.

Topous’ attorney further alleged violation of discovery after failed requests for computer equipment containing the original operating agreement file. He accused Gomery of concealing evidence and providing computers “that they knew contained no relevant information.”

“There was no destruction of evidence in this case,” Gomery’s attorney, Laura Garneau wrote in response. She said the requested computer hardware was produced and “extraneous items such as the hard drive” were offered.

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