HOUSTON – The executive pastor at one of the largest megachurches in the United States is accusing state Rep. Byron Cook of defrauding him on a half-million dollar investment.
Mike Buster of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano filed a lawsuit in Collin County Friday against a company called Unity Resources, LLC, against the faces of the company, Mark Mersman and Mark Solomon, Jr., and against the men he alleges were behind the operation, Cook and Joel Hochberg.
All of those defendants were sued last November by a friend of Attorney General Ken Paxton’s named Charles “Chip” Loper, III. The same law firm, Scheef and Stone, LLP, is representing the two plaintiffs; many of the paragraphs in Buster’s petition are copied verbatim from Loper’s.
The nature of the two lawsuits is similar: Unity Resources sold mineral interests by the acreage in Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, and the plaintiffs bought in to deals that didn’t pay off.
Their complaints overlap on two matters and diverge on a third.
According to Buster, Unity and Cook sold properties back and forth between Unity and Cook-controlled entities to drive up their book value before dumping them on a sucker, Buster. According to Buster’s petition, the other partners in Unity also had no idea Cook was unloading his own undesirable properties on to Unity.
Buster also alleges that Unity made specific representations to him that the company would only profit on a commission.
“In these ‘principal’ transactions, Unity and Legacy (a related company) substantially marked up the costs of the mineral acreage before selling them to Buster and deriving a substantial profit. Unity and Legacy had told Buster that the only money it would make on its mineral transactions with Buster were in the form of a 5% finder’s fee. This was false. The profits Unity and Legacy received in the form of Buster’s investment proceeds were substantially more than 5% on ‘principal transactions.’”
This sort of secret profiting at Buster’s expense was material information that should have been disclosed to him, Buster alleges.