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Three sentenced for Indian Ridge fraud scheme

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Three Colorado residents involved with the failed Indian Ridge Resort development in Branson West were sentenced yesterday for a real estate fraud scheme.

David Drake, 67, of Lone Tree, and Donald Snider Jr., 57, of Littleton, each was sentenced to five years in federal prison. Snider’s wife, Heather Gibbs, 54, was sentenced to three years of probation, according to a news release from the office of Tom Beall, a U.S. district attorney in Kansas.

The three, as well as Drake’s wife, Vickie Hall, pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme in May 2015 in a Kansas City, Kansas, court. Hall was sentenced in October 2015 to three years of probation after pleading guilty to one count of concealing a felony.

Drake and Snider were partners in Western Sites Services, which worked to develop land at Indian Ridge, a project launched to much fanfare by developer Jim Shirato. The early 2006 groundbreaking ceremony for the planned $1.3 billion, 850-acre vacation destination and residential community was attended by Gov. Matt Blunt, according to Springfield Business Journal archives. The project only made it into its first phase with about a dozen residential structures constructed.

In 2015, Drake and Snider pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count each of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Gibbs pleaded guilty to one count of concealing a felony.

The sentencing yesterday involved Drake and Snider making false representations to obtain loans from three banks for the Indian Ridge project. One of the banks was Topeka, Kansas-based Columbian Bank and Trust Co., which caused construction of Indian Ridge to stop in 2008 after it was shut down by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., according to SBJ archives.

In 2012, Shirato and Snider were sentenced to probation and ordered to pay fines for violating the Clean Water Act. The sentencing followed a lawsuit claiming the developers failed to abate, control or slow erosion from the site construction and allowed stormwater runoff to push silt into Table Rock Lake.

According to Branson Tri-Lakes News, a 25-acre portion of Indian Ridge sold at auction in 2012 for $325,000. That same year, the FDIC bought about 800 acres of the property, according to the report.

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