Hawks Ridge Fraud Case Rolls On

The 2 businesspeople accused of fraud in Marquette’s Hawks Ridge condo development pick their preliminary exam back up.

Michael Gokey waived his right to have his prelim, so he’s been bound over to Circuit Court.

But it did go on as scheduled for Joel Westrom.

A Gwinn woman whose son testified earlier in the prelim says after paying $75,000 in 2007, she never got the condo she paid for.

Eleanor Kovacs said she never knew what happened to the money until prosecutors returned the $75,000 to her last week.

The Kovacs’ investment advisor and realtor believed the same things about the project.

Lisa Mongiat said she was under the impression that the Kovacs were paying in advance for a condominium that would be built for Eleanor.

And Peggy Loy, the real estate broker for Century 21 who filled out the sale contract for Westrom, didn’t know anything more about what happened to the agreement than Kovacs did.

She testified after drawing up the papers, she didn’t hear of them again until 4 months ago, when police talked to her.

The sale contract didn’t say the proceeds would be turned over to a broker, which state law requires.

According to the agreement, the money would go directly to Tri-Star Development.

Loy said that even though the purchase agreement said the money would not go to her, that’s not how it would actually work.

Loy said any broker would interpret that to mean the broker would get the money first and would then send it to Tri-Star.

Tri-Star is the name Gokey and Westrom had for their development group.

Testimony continued for the remainder of the day, including word from Brian Swift.

He was one of 3 other men who were originally charged in the case along with Gokey and Westrom.

But Swift, Ryan Bruns and Chad LaVallie had their charges dropped in exchange for their testimony and for reimbursing Eleanor Kovacs the $75,000 she paid.