EL PASO COUNTY, Colorado (CBS4) – 42-year-old El Paso County man accused of selling over a quarter of a million dollars in wedding services at his Black Forest venue now faces civil litigation and lawsuit separate criminal law.
Richard E. Reynolds allegedly defrauded 40 couples of their money, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release last week.
Reynolds was arrested on October 27 by ECPSO investigators and faces a total of 16 counts, all of felonies ranging from simple theft to identity theft and forgery.
According to EPCSO Detective Karl Mai, found the 40 victims living between Thornton and Pueblo. Reynolds received over $ 260,000.00 from them and provided no service in return.
A counsel hearing was held on Thursday in the criminal case.
The day before, a civil court judge signed an order demanding that Reynolds pay back 18 people who collectively sued him for damages. The judge awarded a total of over $ 195,000.
Kimberly Hickenbottom testified in court in this case.
âWe just want our money back at this point,â Hickenbottom told CBS4. âIf we can get more, that’s great for us. But that’s not what we’re looking for.
Hickenbottom first met Reynolds in March 2019 and has her wedding scheduled for the following May.
Then COVID-19 hit.
She delayed the event, while also making payments to Reynolds and absorbing minor purchases – like a disco ball – that were to be used for her wedding but kept by Reynolds’ venue, the Black Forest Retreat.
In fact, Hickenbottom said she learned she made her last payment to Reynolds days after he received a cease and desist order.
âHe was probably running out of money. We have been very exploited, âsaid Hickenbottom.
She had planned to rent the Black Forest Retreat at 11130 Teachout Road for four days. The station’s Christian theme appealed to Hickenbottom, who was in a wheelchair after an accident. Instead of getting married, she ended up losing nearly $ 12,000 of her savings and those of her future husband Mark.
âIt was very annoying. He was a bad guy. I’d like to think he didn’t mean to be a bad guy. I hope it was.
Hickenbottom joined the civil lawsuit which was filed in March this year. Reynolds did not attend any hearing date.
“The defendant was not involved in this case,” El Paso County District Court Judge David Gilbert wrote in his decision. ââ¦ The conduct of the defendant in this litigation lacks substantial justification. “
CBS4 was unable to determine, via online court records, whether Reynolds attended Thursday’s criminal hearing. He is expected to be back in court on November 16.
Hickenbottom had bought a cabin on a neighboring property for “family overflow,” she said. When she called to cancel this reservation in light of the issues next door, James of the Black Forest Lodge offered to host the wedding and bridal party at no cost.
âI don’t think he’ll ever know how much that meant to us,â Hickenbottom said.
She and Mark got married on September 5.