Con man meets his kryptonite
Ryan Summerlin February 24, 2014
Thomas Clay Wilson might have tried to con Superman, but Clay’s ex-wife is his kryptonite.
The accused con man who tried to tried to run a scam involving TV Superman Dean Cain’s Eagle County ranch was arrested in Connecticut. A judge ordered him to repay his ex-wife’s life savings he allegedly stole — almost $1 million. He didn’t do it, and he’ll soon be on his way to South Carolina to explain to Judge William Creech why.
Wilson’s history of real estate scams goes back decades and recently ran through Eagle County.
Connecticut authorities say Wilson was allegedly trying to run a scam for some land near Mystic, and may have been trying to put together a phony deal to raise money, ostensibly to buy a yacht, possibly in Connecticut and maybe another in North Carolina.
“They made the warrant extraditable, and we locked him up,” said Det. Sgt. David Knowles with the Stonington, Conn., police.
Wilson is being held on $250,000 bond in the Stonington, Conn., although he is currently in a hospital after complaining of an illness, Knowles said, something he has done many times before as his scams unraveled. Escape from the hospital isn’t likely. He’s under 24 hour guard, Knowles said.
Wilson, 59, showed up in a limousine at a Stone Ridge, a luxury senior housing development in Mystic, Conn., telling the management company he worked for an investment firm, and that he’d have his people send them the money. It turns out, though, that he doesn’t have any people, Knowles discovered.
Knowles connected the dots, and several of those dots led straight through Eagle County.
The arrest warrant says Wilson was convicted or investigated for scams in real estate, bogus investments and other scams in numerous states over the past 16 years. He’s a fugitive from justice, the warrant says.
Wilson’s history of real estate cons goes back to at least 1997, according to court documents and his son, Clay Wilson. Court documents list 23 residences in 14 years.
Wilson’s alleged High Country cons began near Basalt, where he told folks he was collecting investors to buy 35 acres, build greenhouses and grow organic vegetables. The land he targeted is owned by actor Dean Cain, star of the television series, “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.”
The ranch listed for $5.9 million ranch with Bob Stardoj, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate. Stardoj shut down the deal before anyone was scammed.
While he was in the area, Wilson also tried to scam the owners of Ruby on the River Ranch, a small resort along the Colorado River in Silt.
The owners, who asked that their name not be used, said Wilson called them in June, saying he wanted to buy their ranch. He said he was driving from Pocatello, Idaho, and would see them in two days.
Two days turned into two weeks, and he showed up without identification, but with a story about being mugged in Salt Lake City, and how the robbers had stolen everything. They put Wilson up in a local motel and loaned him some money. Two weeks later they told the Holiday Inn managers to lock the room because they weren’t paying anything more.
Wilson rolled into Eagle County this past summer from New Mexico, driving a brown Ford Excursion allegedly stolen from Rich Ford in Edgewood, N.M., with a hot check.
High Country cons
Wilson has been through the region before. He was picked up for fraud in Summit County in 2010. The case was moved to Eagle County, where court documents indicate he was under house arrest. When Wilson rolled into Eagle County last summer, driving that stolen Ford Excursion, he had fled New Mexico after investors lost $1.3 million in a real estate deal he put together.
A New Mexico judge ordered Wilson to repay the entire $1.3 million, but he only came up with $300,000. He escaped New Mexico when he skipped a court appearance. His lawyer, Laurence Guggino, told the judge that Wilson was at the Heart Hospital in Albuquerque, claiming chest pain, pain down his left arm and shortness of breath.
Back in Stonington, Conn., where Wilson was arrested, Det. Knowles says that’s the same set of symptoms Wilson claims he’s suffering from … again.
Wilson went so far as to fake a suicide attempt in order to get a free hotel stay in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Court records show Wilson has run cons in Pitkin County, Lakewood, Denver and Bend Ore., which he lists as his address.
Wilson’s victims and enemies include his son, Clay Wilson, who claims his father earned his trust then stole his identity, car and dog. His son lives in the Denver metro area and is outspoken about his disdain for his father, calling him “a cowardly psychopath who has dragged my name, my credit and my ability to function down to the depths of hell.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.