Real estate firm execs resign in wake of CEO’s email about FBI investigation

Brian Watson is the CEO of Northstar Commercial Partners. (Photos courtesy BizDen file and Creative Commons)

Multiple executives have left Denver-based Northstar Commercial Partners in the wake of the FBI serving a search warrant at the home of CEO Brian Watson.

Chief Operating Officer Tim Lorman, Chief Financial Officer Brent Gray and Senior Accountant David Gomez recently resigned, according to an April 9 filing in a lawsuit against the company.

Tim Lorman

Brent Gray

LinkedIn profiles for the three men confirm that they are no longer with Northstar. Lorman and Gray did not respond to a request for comment.

Gomez told BusinessDen he tendered his resignation in late March —  prior to the FBI’s arrival at Watson’s home — with an effective date of April 9.

“I decided to carry on with my original resignation date because a major business partner broke ties with Northstar and that was 80% of my job,” Gomez told BusinessDen.

BusinessDen was first to report earlier this month that Watson told family members and business partners in an April 2 email that FBI agents who visited him at his home that morning “started to accuse me of fraud, misappropriation of funds, etc. in relation to our Amazon data centers.”

David Gomez

“I was shocked to hear this, as I do not know of any such fraud, and explained to them I could not discuss this as I was under a strict confidentiality agreement with Amazon,” he wrote. “They then served me papers, confiscated both my laptops and cell phone, and left my home.”

In addition to being Northstar’s CEO, Watson was also the Republican nominee for Colorado state treasurer in 2018.

Louisville, Colorado-based Balfour referenced the subsequent resignations in the April 9 filing, which amended a lawsuit the company originally filed against Northstar in March.

The two companies partnered to develop a senior living community in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In the lawsuit, Balfour alleged breach of contract, and said Watson and business partner Donald Marcotte failed to attend key meetings related to the project, or to recognize or deal with budget shortfalls.

The lawsuit also referenced a $3 million wire transfer that Northstar was supposed to send in January to the project’s general contractor Brinkmann Constructors, but that was apparently misdirected. Watson said in the April 2 email that the general contractor was “hacked” and sent incorrect wiring instructions, but Balfour blames Northstar for not following “the basic practice” of verbally confirming the details with Brinkmann.

Watson said in the April 2 email that he reported the wire transfer loss to the FBI, and originally thought the agents that went to his home were there just about that.

Contacted by BusinessDen on Thursday, Watson referred comment on the resignations to attorney Stan Garnett of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

“This appears to be a publicity stunt amended filing to take advantage of the position that Brian and Northstar find themselves in,” Garnett said of Balfour’s lawsuit.

Balfour’s lawsuit also alleges that Watson recently spent $6.6 million on a 20,000-square-foot home, and that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also is investigating Northstar. The document doesn’t state a specific reason why Balfour believes that to be the case. Balfour’s CEO did not respond to a request for comment.

Asked if the SEC was investigating, Garnett said, “Not that I’m aware of.”

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