Lawyer says Hammond woman's $1.3M fraud trial may take two weeks

2013-08-19T17:00:00Z 2013-08-19T19:53:13Z Lawyer says Hammond woman's $1.3M fraud trial may take two weeksBy Bob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | A judge was asked Monday to set aside about two weeks for the trial of a Hammond woman and a Lafayette man accused of unlawfully collecting $1.3 million in real estate investments and dipping into the funds to buy a vehicle, pay salaries and spend money on other personal needs.

Efforts are still under way to get copies from the state of the seven boxes of evidence against Donna Harris, also known as Donna Meade, and Gary Atkinson, according to Harris' attorney Bryan Truitt.

Atkinson is represented by defense attorney Aimee Schultz, who said prosecutors are working on obtaining the evidence.

Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford scheduled a status hearing for Sept. 30.

Harris and Atkinson are accused of carrying out the venture from March 2007 to October 2011 under the business name of Dunes Country Mortgage Partners, Porter County court documents show.

The two are accused of selling unregistered promissory notes for a real estate development in Porter County to investors from communities including Valparaiso, Munster, Kouts and Merrillville.

"Atkinson and Harris continued to send letters updating victims on the progress of their investments and encouraging them to invest more," court documents state.

The investors also received notes from a bank updating them on their investments and stating that money existed in their accounts, which wasn't the case, the allegations state. Atkinson and Harris are accused of providing the information for the updates.

The investors reportedly were unable to obtain money from their accounts.

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