CHARLESTON — Two lawsuits were filed against Charleston Developer John Wellford accusing him of accepting millions of dollars in rent money from Ticketmaster and failing to provide the money to two government agencies.
The Kanawha County Commission (KCC) and the West Virginia Water Development Authority (WVWDA) filed the lawsuits Dec. 28 against Wellford at Corotoman Inc. KCC and WVWDA were part of a lease agreement with Wellford dating back nearly 20 years.
The lawsuits claim the defendants failed to pass along more than $1.5 million over several years.
Kanawha County Commissioner W. Kent Carper said in a statement provided to The West Virginia Record that the Regional Development Authority and WVWDA filed suit against the "crooked landlord" after an internal review was conducted several months ago.
Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper
"Make no mistake, I believe serious civil and criminal offenses have occurred," Carper said in the statement. "The Regional Development Authority will pursue all possible claims against this bad actor."
WVWDA conducted the internal review in August and found that Wellford and Corotoman missed 79 loan payments to the state.
Corotoman and Wellford collected the money from Ticketmaster but never made its loan payments to WVWDA.
WVWDA loaned $3 million to Corotoman through the Regional Development Authority as part of an economic development project in 1999 that was to help finance construction of an office building allowing Ticketmaster to have a place in Kanawha County.
Corotoman is responsible for collecting and remitting the rent to WVWDA, according to its loan agreement.
In addition to the missed loan payments to the WVWDA, Corotoman and Wellford have more than $2.4 million in federal, state and city tax liens on record in the Kanawha County Clerk’s Office.
Melissa Foster Bird of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough is representing the Regional Development Authority.
The cases were assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster, according to West Virginia Metro News.