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Va. man proclaims innocence in Hilltop House dealings

June 04, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. -- A Virginia man who was involved in a redevelopment of the former Old Standard Quarry near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and who was charged in an alleged scheme involving the Hilltop House Hotel in Harpers Ferry proclaimed his innocence Tuesday.

Brad Gray, 43, of Springfield, Va., was charged Saturday with false pretense, grand larceny and worthless check after a woman who was trying to buy the hotel said money she gave to Gray for a deposit became unaccounted for.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Gray said he has been "unjustly charged" in the case. Gray said the situation involved a business transaction that was completed "to the satisfaction of all concerned. I am confident I will be vindicated at the end of the day," Gray said.

Gray also alleged that information has been hidden from investigators.

Gray was charged after V. Jeannie Pantazes of Woodstock, Md., said she was at the Hilltop House on East Ridge Street about Jan. 3, 2006, and asked a man, later identified as Gray, if the hotel was for sale, according to a criminal complaint filed in Jefferson County Magistrate Court by West Virginia State Police Trooper J.M. Bush.

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Pantazes said Gray identified himself as the owner and said he wanted to form a partnership for the hotel.

Pantazes said Gray later told her that a bank would finance $2 million if a deposit were made, Bush's complaint said. Gray also stated there were eight partners and each partner would have to contribute $150,000 to a hotel account for the deposit, the complaint says.

Gray told Pantazes to provide $50,000 and that the money would go toward taxes and the hotel account, the complaint states.

Pantazes said Gray called her about a week later asking for another deposit, and she gave him $45,000, Bush said.

Pantazes said the hotel's owner, William Stanhagon, told her that money was missing from the hotel account and that she later realized that $24,205 from her second deposit was unaccounted for, the complaint said.

Pantazes said she confronted Gray about the situation and Gray said he used $10,000 for a lawyer and $14,205 was for expenses at the "Cliffside hotel," the complaint said. Pantazes said she tried to get receipts for the expenses from Gray but he would not return her phone calls, Bush said.

Gray, who is free on bond, was charged with worthless check after he wrote a $31,000 check involving the sale of the hotel. A bank returned the check because of insufficient funds, Bush said in the complaint.

Each of the charges against Gray carries a possible punishment of one to 10 years in jail.

A variety of development proposals have been considered to redevelop the former Old Standard Quarry off Millville Road, and Gray was a spokesman for Stonewall Heights LLC, a group of developers that was perusing a plan to build a National Park Service museum at the site.

The museum later was taken off the drawing board due to lack of federal funds to run it.

Gray has appeared in recent Jefferson County Commission meetings as talks have continued on redeveloping the site.

When asked Tuesday if he was still part of Stonewall Heights LLC, Gray said, "I don't know of anything being pursued right now."

Herb Jonkers, manager of the Old Standard Quarry who has been working with developers on plans, declined Tuesday to comment on Gray's case.

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