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Businessman’s past local projects failed to materialize

By Julia Merchant and Becky Johnson • Staff Writers

One of the consultants involved in pulling off Cataloochee Wilderness Resorts — a 4,500 acre development supposedly coming to Haywood County — has raised some eyebrows in the community.


Businessman Dean Moses is serving as a consultant for the project, but his track record facilitating developments in Haywood County isn’t great. Moses was the figure head behind a string of failed business proposals for the old Dayco industrial site in Waynesville — a saga that spanned several years and eventually ended in bankruptcy court.

Moses and his business partners, including his brother and wife, created multiple companies with ideas of how to develop the site. They solicited capital from investors, then racked up debts on company credit cards and lines of credit with local businesses. They failed to ever see their ideas to fruition, however. When one company hit a financial dead-end, it was dissolved and a new one created, again touting plans of how they would develop the Dayco site.

Cataloochee Wilderness Resorts is only in the visionary stages and has yet to acquire the necessary land, permits or capital. Moses has apparently been involved in drumming up investors for the development. He has been sued by one such investor in civil court in Knoxville for allegedly misapproriating the investment funds.

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According to Frank Singleton, spokesman for the project, Moses is not a principle player in Cataloochee Wildeness Resorts, but is merely a consultant. Moses is in charge of getting the development’s PR materials into the right hands — kind of like playing matchmaker between landowners, investors and retail outlets the development hopes to score.

Attempts to contact Moses directly via the number on a Cataloochee Wilderness Resort information packet led to a place called “executive offices.” A message was left for Moses with a secretary, and minutes later, Singleton returned the call.

Mark Clasby, Haywood County’s economic development director, said he was unclear of Moses’ involvement with Cataloochee Companies.

“I do not know why they have him involved. It certainly raises a question, and I don’t know the answer to that. I just know that his name has been associated with it and that certainly raises the eyebrows,” Clasby said.


In court

Moses’ name made headlines most recently on Nov. 16, when the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported Tennessee real-estate developer John Thornton is suing Moses over a project bearing a likeness to the proposed Cataloochee Wilderness Resort.

The project “was slated to include a 1 million square foot lifestyle shopping center, single-family homes, a golf course and a ski resort,” the newspaper reported.

In the suit, Thornton alleges that Tennessee attorney Robert Worthington introduced him to Moses and persuaded Thornton to invest in the project. The suit alleges that in August of 2005 “Thornton wired more than $328,000 that was to be used for down payments on properties, and he also furnished loans of approximately $275,000 for operating expenses and venture debts,” the Sentinel article stated.

“Around the following June, the suit alleges that Moses and another defendant directed investors to release $242,879 of Thornton’s escrowed money without his consent and transfer the money to an account at BB&T bank in Knoxville. Thornton alleges that he didn’t find out about the transfer until months later, and that Moses, Worthington and another defendant have since refused to furnish the money to Thornton or let him get information about the transfer.”

The defendants claim that the lawsuit and current project are not related.


More history on Dayco

Moses came to Haywood County in 1999 touting a plan to turn the closed down Dayco industrial site into a manufacturing plant for tankless hotwater heaters. His company was called Thermal Products.

When Thermal Products went under, Moses and his business partners created a new company with a new vision: turning Dayco into an upscale outlet mall. They created a company called Enterprize Park to pursue the plan, but that company, too, went under. A new one then emerged called Grand Ridge, with similar plans to create an outlet mall at the site. Moses’ role was supposedly as a consultant that was soliciting retailers and investors to sign on to the project.

When creditors brought Grand Ridge to bankruptcy court, Moses and his business partners proposed yet another company called Landmark, which again would pursue the vision of turning Dayco into an outlet mall.

As CEO of Grand Ridge, Moses never disclosed how much the company owned or what its assets were despite continued demands by the bankruptcy court trustee and creditors to reveal the company’s assets. An off-shore Cyprus trust that held the company’s stock made it difficult to obtain any information about the company’s true financial status.

The county and town convinced the bankruptcy court to take the property away from Moses and his business partners through foreclosure, allowing the county and the town of Waynesville to purchase it and begin marketing it. Today, Super Wal-Mart and Home Depot are building on the property.

The list of people and companies owed money by Moses’ enterprises include credit card companies, lenders, banks, attorneys, Lowe’s, the IRS, former employees, insurance companies, gas stations, car leasing companies, accountants, a sprinkler company, UPS, Bell South, CP&L and more than a dozen individuals.

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