Beaumont woman claims broker urged investment in fraudulent local company

Kelly Holleran Aug. 13, 2009, 8:00am

Brent Coon

A Beaumont woman says she has lost access to money she placed in the stock of a fraudulent corporation after four companies and three individuals conspired to entice her to place money in the stock.

Susan Hyman filed a lawsuit Aug. 5 in Jefferson County District Court against Metropolitan Park and its subsidiaries, Metropolitan Park President Bryan Lee, Sue Ann Ma, TriCentury Corp., Clifford Roth, Benson Title Company and Pacific Coast Banker's Bank.

Hyman claims her broker and financial advisor, Sue Ann Ma, led her to direct the money to stock with TriCentury.

At her broker's advice, Hyman decided to place an unspecified amount of money into an Accredited Investor Subscription Agreement with TriCentury in 2007, the suit states. Under the terms of the agreement, Hyman irrevocably subscribed funds for the purchase of TriCentury common stock.

Only after investing her money did Hyman discover TriCentury was not a corporation as it had forfeited its corporate charter on July 15, 2007, according to the complaint.

At the time of the transaction, Hyman was also not aware that TriCentury was Sue Ann Ma's associate's company and that Metropolitan Park's President Bryan Lee was Sue Ann Ma's brother, the suit states.

However, Hyman was entitled to a refund of her money if TriCentury did not receive $5 million in subscriptions and if it was not granted regulatory approval to become a bank holding company and did not acquire Nine Tribes Bancshares and its subsidiary bank, the Bank of Quapaw, the complaint says.

"The Agreement further provided, in bold front on the first page, 'In the event that [TriCentury] does not obtain regulatory approval of its acquisition, of the Bank of Quapaw by Dec. 31, 2007, then all subscribed funds, with accrued interest, will be returned to investors,'" the suit states.

Dec. 31, 2007, passed and still TriCentury had not obtained the awaited approval for acquisition of the bank, Hyman claims. On May 5, 2008, TriCentury withdrew its application for the acquisition.

Since then, Hyman has made repeated demands for the return of her money with interest, but TriCentury has refused to honor her requests, according to the complaint.

"The Plaintiff suffered injury because the Funds have been unavailable for investment and/or other uses," the suit states.

Hyman's invested money is now in Benson's Security Bank of Kansas City, which is not an escrow account as promised in the agreement, the suit states. Her investment arrived at Benson's after escrow agent PCBB withdrew from the transaction, the complaint says.

"TriCentury and Roth concealed from Plaintiff or failed to disclose that PCBB withdrew from the Transaction due to repeated delays and the belief that the transaction would not be consummated," the suit states. "TriCentury and Roth knew that the Plaintiff was ignorant of the facts and did not have an equal opportunity to discover the truth."

Hyman blames PCBB, also, because she says it created a false impression by making a partial disclosure and voluntarily disclosed only a portion of information when it had a duty to tell the whole truth.

In addition, Benson forfeited its corporate chapter on July 17, 2007, for failure to timely file its annual report, according to the complaint. Like TriCentury's forfeiture, Hyman was also not aware of Benson's forfeiture, the suit states.

Charges in Hyman's complaint include breach of contract, conversion, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, Texas blue sky law violations and civil conspiracy.

Hyman is seeking unliquidated, compensatory and exemplary damages, plus attorneys' fees, pre- and post-judgment interest at the highest legal rate, costs and other relief to which she is entitled.

Brent W. Coon, Jason L. Cansler and Ryan Douglas White of Brent Coon and Associates in Beaumont will be representing her.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: B184-614.

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