Business

Houston-area developer reported missing in June under criminal investigation, accused of fraud and faking disappearance

One of two civil lawsuits filed this week against Brett Detamore and Detamore Development accuses the Houston-area resident of faking his own disappearance as part of a scheme to defraud investors.

Harris County Civil Courthouse
Macie Kelly/Houston Public Media
Pictured is the Harris County Civil Courthouse.

A Houston-area developer who was briefly considered missing this summer is accused of faking his own disappearance as part of a scheme to defraud investors, according to a lawsuit filed this week in Harris County court.

Brett Detamore, 38, and his company, Detamore Development, also are under criminal investigation related to allegations of fraud, said Sgt. Patricio Acevedo with the West University Place Police Department. He said the department received "numerous" complaints of fraudulent activity after Detamore was reported missing by a family member on June 21 and subsequently found by another law enforcement agency six days later at a bus stop in San Antonio.

"(The allegations are) all very similar to what the lawsuits out there have described," Acevedo said Friday. "Due to the nature of the offense and the lengthy in-depth investigation that those kinds of investigations take, we're still actively working on it."

In a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday, Detamore, his company and the owners of two Houston-area properties are accused of breaching a 2019 financial agreement and owing more than $40,000 in unpaid debt to Houston-based Western Pacific Building Materials.

Another lawsuit filed Wednesday, on behalf of Harris County resident Zaffer Syed and two local companies, seeks more than $1 million and accuses Detamore and his company of breach of contract, fraud, statutory fraud, conversion, unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation and theft. Among other claims, the lawsuit alleges that Detamore made periodic withdrawals from an investment account that was intended to be used for constructing homes, but instead created false invoices and used the money to support a "lavish lifestyle."

"Brett Detamore's lavish lifestyle included attending major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, World Series games, meet and greets with athletes and other high-dollar events," the lawsuit claims. "Brett Detamore jet-setted around and stayed in luxurious hotels and resorts. Additionally, he bought and drove an expensive Dodge Ram TRX truck, Cadillac Escalade and had a second home in Galveston worth over one million dollars."

The lawsuit also states that Syed and his two companies began to uncover the alleged deceit and fraud "only after Brett Detamore faked his disappearance."

Christian Ellis, an attorney for the Detamore family, said in a statement they are reviewing the allegations in the lawsuits.

“The events of the last few months have been tragic and unfortunately the subject of much public speculation and rumor; many false allegations have been made, and the Detamore family, including their young children, have suffered as a result,” Ellis said. “Mr. Detamore is getting the help he needs, and the entire Detamore family requests privacy at this time."

The aforementioned Dodge truck was found engulfed in flames at Bear Creek Park on the morning of June 21, shortly after Detamore went missing, according to Acevedo Houston Fire Department spokesperson Martee Black said arson investigators determined the fire was deliberately started, but the Harris County District Attorney's Office declined to accept arson charges because there was no complainant and the truck was paid off.

Acevedo said the police department for West University Place, where Detamore resided at the time, found evidence that indicated his six-day disappearance "may have been pre-planned."

According to multiple local news reports in June, lawsuits against Detamore and his development company were filed on June 14 and June 23 in Kings County, N.Y., alleging they defaulted on loan agreements and owed more than $128,000 to Wynwood Capital Group and nearly $200,000 to Novus Capital Funding. The status of those lawsuits was unclear Friday.

Acevedo said he could not provide additional details about the ongoing criminal investigation.

"Ultimately, once everything is wrapped up, it'll be deferred to the Harris County District Attorney's Office for the possibility of criminal charges," he said.