On Tue, 08 Nov 2005 23:11:36 GMT, Lermanet.com <email@example.com> wrote:
Colleen McCarty, Investigative Reporter
A Gun And a Dream http://klastv.com
Nov 7, 2005, 09:00 PM PST
Also on klastv.com
Its founder billed it as a Disneyland for gun enthusiasts, a 550-acre master planned community with a shooting range as the draw. The concept was unveiled in the late 1990s, complete with artist renderings and a miniature model. Today, the model remains on site but so far it's the only house there.
"The safest community in America," that was the pitch to people seeking a home at the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute. For upwards of $200,000 members were promised a one-acre luxury home site in an exclusive resort. Instead they got a thank you letter, a baseball hat and a map of a lot they don't own.
The Front Sight Firearms Training Institute bills itself as the world's premier resort for self defense training. Offering "skill at arms" to students of all levels.
Student Erik Johnson says, "It's kind of like swimming. It's fun to do but along the way you're learning a skill that might save your life someday."
Johnson finds happiness, down range. A veteran of 70 classes he hopes to one day make his hobby his home. In 2001, he purchased a platinum membership entitling him to a one acre lot in the future Front Sight master planned community.
Front Sight President Ignatius Piazza says, "At some point there will be a thousand homes out here, commercial center, community center, and it will be a resort that instead of having a golf course as the anchor will have world class adventure training."
Front Sight's founder, former chiropractor Dr. Ignatius Piazza has been touting his vision for "the safest community in America" for six years. Boasting a completion date that seems to change with each interview. Initially scheduled to open in winter of 2001, Piazza now says the project is on hold, indefinitely.
Piazza says, "The timeline now really has to do with how soon we match up with the right joint venture developer. We've been in negotiations with a number of them; we've turned down a few. We would like to find the right fit."
Johnson says he'll wait and spend his weekends on the firing line. But not all platinum members have holstered their frustrations. Bill Haag has hired an attorney to protect his investment.
Attorney Keith Greer says, "All the platinum member knows is they cut a big check and they got one sentence on the bottom of their membership that you got this parcel."
For $175,000, Haag got a thank you letter complete with a parcel number and a map showing its location. Believing construction was imminent; Greer says his client relocated to southern Nevada in preparation for the move.
Greer says, "The big issue is what does he have now? He has the same piece of desert land that he first looked at before he cut that check. There's been no water, no roads, no grading, no electricity."
A piece of undeveloped desert that at this point Haag doesn't own. Piazza acknowledges no deeds were issued, not to Haag or to any of the platinum members. Front Sight owns the land, all 550 acres of it.
Piazza says, "The people have not purchased a lot out here, what they've purchased is a membership and at some point in the future when the development is completed they'll have access to a one acre home site and we'll deed it out to them."
In the meantime, Front Sight has mortgaged the land promised to the platinum members. A $6 million dollar interest only loan taken out on the residential portion of the property.
Greer says, "We're waiting to see is it going into infrastructure, is he going to make good on his promise to the platinum members and just get a road out to their property and some water so they can build."
Instead of putting the $6 million into the housing development, Piazza tells the Eyewitness News I-team he used the money to fund a promotional video and several reality TV shows currently in production. Programs to promote Front Sight and to attract another long line of pilgrims to the desert.
Late this afternoon, attorney Keith Greer filed a class action lawsuit against Front Sight and Ignatius Piazza. It alleges Piazza used the Front Sight organization to de-fraud members out of money for his own personal gain. We'll hear from one of those members Tuesday at 5 p.m.
previous front sight news
From: "Simkatu" <Simkatu@gmail.com>
Subject: A Gun and a Dream, Part 2 (was Re: Another big shot Scientologist getting sued for fraud - Ignatius Piazza - Front Sight Firearms
Date: 9 Nov 2005 00:45:12 -0800
Front Sight Firearms story part 2
A Gun and a Dream, Part 2
A home on the range motivated some gun enthusiasts to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for a one-acre lot at the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute. Now 6 years later, the promised parcels remain as desolate as they day they were secured. Prompting a class action lawsuit against the organization and its president.
The Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, near Pahrump, boasts some 4,000 members.
These are people who've paid anywhere from $100,000 to $1,200 for a lifetime of self-defense training. Memberships purchased early on were marketed as investments, but now some are finding their sure-fire deal has missed its mark.
First Family member Stacy James says, "I was flipping through the channels one evening and happened to catch a news segment about a place out in Nevada that was offering a free one day Uzi submachine gun class. I thought that sounded like a lot of fun."
One squeeze of the Uzi submachine gun had James locked and loaded. He purchased a lifetime membership, unlimited handgun, shotgun and rifle classes, the same day.
James says, "What really interested me were the full-auto classes. The Uzi, the slick fire M-16. That was a pretty high level membership, a silver. It was advertised; the one payment price at that time was $65,000. And I really wasn't prepared to come up with that day one, so I signed up for the lowest level, the copper membership."
Then in 2001, Front Sight founder, former chiropractor Dr. Ignatius Piazza put the precious metal within reach. For $50,000, the remaining balance on someone else's defaulted membership, James went from copper to silver with the full-auto classes and the ammunition included.
James says, "It was always presented that the membership was an investment. You could take the classes you wanted and then if for any reason you decided to sell in the future. You could sell your membership at the current market price and then you would recoup your value."
But soon, the terms began to change and the prices started to drop -- dramatically. The latest lifetime membership, though not precisely the same, offers firearms training including the coveted full-auto classes, for $1,200.
James says, "Nobody's going to buy mine, what I paid 50 thousand for to break even. No one's going to buy it from me when there's lots of people who paid a fraction of that." Frustrated by what he considers a string of broken promises, James brought his concerns to Piazza.
Piazza says, "From a short-sided stand point, you may see some fluctuations in prices but that doesn't mean that there aren't things that are occurring that are going to occur very shortly or even long-term that are going to make huge differences, and the people who get in and take advantage of it are going to be very, very happy."
To keep James happy, Piazza upgraded his membership from silver to gold, and claims James has already zeroed out his costs based on the retail value of the classes he's taken. Unsatisfied, James hired attorney Keith Greer.
Greer says, "Piazza took other people's money for investment capital to start his operation and then when he got it up and running, he hung them out to dry. Didn't follow through on the promises he made, didn't give them what they expected, didn't give them their money back."
Greer has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of James and other Front Sight members, alleging Piazza de-frauded thousands for his own personal gain.
Investigative Reporter Colleen McCarty asked Piazza, "Do you think when you say one thing and then it changes do you start to worry that people wonder what's really true and what's really not?"
Piazza answers, "I think when people come out here and have the opportunity to see us and speak to us and see what we're doing, if they have a question they can ask it. And we'll be happy to answer it."
Piazza may one day answer those questions in court, until then, James makes the drive to Front Sight as often as he can.
Since our first story aired Monday night, we've received dozens of emails from other Front Sight members. The I-Team will continue to follow this story.
Contact Investigative Reporter Colleen McCarty: firstname.lastname@example.org