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LOST PARADISE
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Hardy developer Wayne Watkins is accused of defrauding real estate investors in Sharp County . Authorities said Watkins, who spent more than two decades developing family and camping resorts along the Spring River, sold land to an unknown number of buyers through installment contracts that allowed him to automatically withdraw monthly payments from their bank accounts.

Watkins used the land as collateral to take out $2.6 million in loans, then defaulted on the loans and the land was seized, authorities said. Officials said Watkins and the money disappeared, along with any legal claim the buyers had to the land.

Hardy developer facing $3 million in penalties

posted: 04/06/2012 4:29 a.m. Comment 1

Former Hardy land developer Wayne Watkins faces $3 million in civil penalties as a result of a judgment rendered in a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Dustin Mc-Daniel in 2008 over claims that Watkins swindled thousands of dollars from buyers in a failed land deal on the Spring River.

Judge adds restrictions to ex-developer’s bail

posted: 03/01/2011 5:35 a.m. Comment 1

Former Sharp County developer Wayne Watkins, who returned to Arkansas last week after four years in Mexico, remains in custody at the county jail in Ash Flat.

Bail set, fought; returnee not free

posted: 02/25/2011 4:56 a.m. Discuss

A district judge set bail for developer Wayne Watkins at $106,910.20 Thursday, but Watkins will remain in the Sharp County jail at least through the weekend pending a circuit court hearing scheduled for Monday.

Fugitive developer on way to Ash Flat

posted: 02/23/2011 6:07 a.m. Comments 2

A Sharp County deputy is driving fugitive developer Wayne Watkins from Texas to Ash Flat today to face a felony theft charge and one-time clients who say he cheated them out of thousands of dollars.

Developer accused in land deals jailed

posted: 02/22/2011 6:44 a.m. Comments 2

A developer accused of defrauding real estate investors in Sharp County was arrested at a Houston airport Monday as he returned from Mexico, where he had been living for four years, the Sharp County sheriff said.

LOST PARADISE: Land buyers left empty-handed

updated: 02/22/2011 9:20 a.m.

HARDY - For two decades, people in this northcentral Arkansas town saw Wayne Watkins as a visionary who created resort developments along the scenic Spring River and boosted the area economy. Now, people he lured here to buy property see him as a thief.

LOST PARADISE: Victims look for help, find little

updated: 02/22/2011 9:21 a.m.

When victims of Wayne Watkins' failed land deals turned to government agencies for help, they felt further victimized.

State set to sue over land deals, McDaniel says

updated: 02/22/2011 9:22 a.m.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Monday that he plans to file a lawsuit on behalf of consumers against Sharp County developer Wayne Watkins, whose conduct McDaniel described as "reprehensible."

Tipsters say fugitive developer spotted back in Sharp County

updated: 02/22/2011 9:23 a.m.

Hardy developer Wayne Watkins, who is wanted on a felony theft charge in connection with failed land deals and believed to be in Mexico, was reported to have been back in Sharp County two weeks ago, strolling down the aisles of a Wal-Mart.

Despite negotiations, developer still on loose

updated: 02/21/2011 11:07 p.m. Discuss

Fugitive developer Wayne Watkins remains free more than three months after his attorney said he was trying to work out a deal with lawenforcement officials for his client to return to Sharp County and face a felonytheft charge.

State sues Sharp County land developer, 3 of his partners

updated: 02/21/2011 11:08 p.m.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Sharp County developer Wayne Watkins and three of his business partners, accusing them of "unconscionable" behavior that violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

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