Springs man accused of fleecing real estate partner

LANCE BENZEL Updated: December 10, 2010 at 12:00 am • Published: December 10, 2010

A hastily conceived deal to buy foreclosed homes in Colorado Springs and flip them for a profit went awry for a New York City man who claims a business partner bilked him out of $200,000.

Lawrence Fliegelman said 52-year-old Richard Charlesworth of Colorado Springs pocketed all but $23,000 of the money he fronted for the deal.

Charlesworth was charged Wednesday with two counts of theft and one count of securities fraud, all felonies.

He is free on a $10,000 bond, court records show.

The men — both regional salesmen for Legacie Eyewear Co. in New York — were strangers until they met at a New York City trade show in 2008 and hashed out a deal to buy two houses together, 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office investigator Randall DeGering said in an arrest warrant.

Charlesworth, who devised the plan, promised Fliegelman a 6 percent return if he agreed to invest money for the purchase, DeGering said.

Without a written contract, Fliegelman wired $125,000 into his new friend’s bank account and later sent him two checks totaling $75,000, with some of the money coming from another investor in New York.

Prosecutors allege that the trouble began soon thereafter.

According to the arrest affidavit, Charlesworth followed through on the plan to buy foreclosed homes on Esther Drive and Judson Street in 2008.

But he paid only $40,000 up front and relied on financing to cover the rest of the combined $180,000 asking price, DeGering said.

In 2009, Charlesworth sold the houses for about $290,000 without telling his partner, according to an analysis by DeGering.

Charlesworth returned some of Fliegelman’s money in response to repeated e-mails asking about the status of his investment.

In the meantime, prosecutors allege, Charlesworth was spending his partner’s money — blowing through at least $44,000 on miscellaneous expenses including child support payments he sent to Kansas and Michigan and a Mercedes-Benz for his wife.

Charlesworth is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 14.

Call the writer at 636-0366.

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