A builder who scammed roughly $400,000 from six families who wanted homes in Kirkwood has been sentenced to 12 months in federal prison.
Morgan Bullock, 33, of Camdenton, Missouri, was sentenced to the year of prison time and ordered to pay roughly $136,000 in restitution for his scheme to defraud Kirkwood homebuyer customers of Bullock Building and Development, LLC.
He appeared in federal court on Nov. 8 before U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Bullock owned and operated Bullock Building and Development, a construction company he operated out of Camdenton. During 2015, Bullock and two partners purchased approximately five acres of land at 425 Emmerson Ave. in Kirkwood, and planned to build eight residential homes in what they called Emmerson Estates.
Court documents show that Bullock and his partners took out a loan to purchase the land from a local bank. Bullock then applied with the city of Kirkwood for approval of his development plan and building permits. Before giving approval to build the subdivision, the city required Bullock to obtain approval from the Metropolitan Sewer District and also to post a letter of credit as a performance guarantee from a financial institution in the amount of approximately $500,000. Bullock never obtained approval for the construction from MSD, and he was unable to find a financial institution willing to issue him and his company the performance guarantee.
As a result, Bullock never obtained final approval from Kirkwood to develop the subdivision. Nevertheless, during 2017, Bullock marketed the new home construction in Emmerson Estates, and obtained lot deposits from six families based upon his false representations that he would build their new homes on the selected lots.
Bullock never advised the home buyers that he did not have approval from Kirkwood to develop the subdivision and build their promised homes, according to court records.
Despite promising that he would only use their lot deposits in the construction of their new homes, Bullock instead was found guilty of using the victim homebuyers’ funds for his own personal use and to pay off contractors working on a separate unrelated construction project in the Camdenton area.
Bullock made numerous false representations to the homebuyers as to why construction had not begun on their homes, blaming the delays on purported weather issues, contractor problems, and other false excuses.
Ultimately, one of the home buyers demanded his family’s deposit back, and Bullock wrote him a $50,000 check, knowing that there were not sufficient funds in his bank account.
Finally, the lender foreclosed on the Emmerson Estates land for nonpayment by Bullock, and Bullock’s scheme was fully discovered.
The six victim homebuyers included families with young children as well as retirees who used substantial portions of their life savings to make the lot deposit payments to Bullock. The total loss to the victim home buyers was approximately $400,000.
As one victim stated in a letter to the court:
“Morgan Bullock never appeared even the slightest bit remorseful about his scam. Even when it became completely obvious that we were victims an intentional fraudulent scam, Bullock remained smug, arrogant, and unfazed. When I informed him to the authorities, he simply said, ‘Do what you think you have to do, I don’t care. But you won’t get your money back that way.’”