'Timeshare King' settles with local agents for $500,000 - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

'Timeshare King' settles with local agents for $500,000

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MYRTLE BEACH (WMBF) - A settlement has been reached in the six-year-long case of the so-called "Timeshare King" and the 350 former employees he's accused of ripping off.

WMBF News has been covering every twist and turn in this case.  It involves former timeshare agents from the Westgate Resort on Ocean Boulevard and Florida billionaire, David Siegel.

Those 350 plaintiffs in this case have waited more than six years to see their money, and this would be their day. Visiting Hartsville Judge, Michael Baxley, will either accept or deny a pennies-on-the-dollar settlement offer from David Siegel and company, but not before his former employees offered a piece of their mind, and a piece of advice to the rest of us.

Judy Parker is the named plaintiff in the case. "I truly do not know what the court can do with a company that is determined to behave in a criminal manner," she said.

They don't mince words when they get the chance to talk about the man they insist stole millions from them.: unpaid salary and commissions held by billionaire David Siegel according to a class action lawsuit filed way back in 2007.

Adding insult to injury for these former Westgate Resort employees is Siegel's lavish and very public lifestyle, including construction of Versailles, and a 90,000 square foot home in Florida, complete with ten kitchens and a 30-car garage.

But in this courtroom, it was about a sum of money equaling less than the cost of a few windows in that home.

"They're turning around and building the largest house in American on the backs of the employees they didn't pay," said Timothy Walsh.

"I'm sure he's done this at every single resort, every single year he's been in business," insisted former timeshare employee Christopher Deccaro.  "So, who knows how many millions he's got off the backs of hard-working people."

Fewer than 10 percent of the plaintiffs even bothered to offer an opinion on the Siegel settlement: a $500,000 lump sum that covers less than half of what the timeshare magnate is accused of stealing from them.

Many here would prefer to take this all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

Cynthia Reilly has been one of the more outspoken critics of Siegel and his method of doing business in Myrtle Beach.  She is not in favor of settling.  "It has been the biggest hassle ever," she said. "And yes it has taken a lot of time. And I am praying and begging you judge that you're gonna do something got expedite this along and you are not going to accept this settlement."

The bottom line: Judge Baxley did not see an end sight to this "agent and goliath" case.

"A bird in hand is worth two in the bush," said Baxley. "And I strongly believe it is in the best interest of this class that this settlement be adopted."

"It would have been another five years before this litigation was ended," said Gene Connell, attorney for the plaintiffs.  ''We would have gone on to the court of appeals, the Supreme Court."

For most in this case, it's not about the business of high-pressure timeshare sales, it's about lessons learned.

"Timeshare is a perfectly legitimate industry," said Parker.  "No reason people shouldn't go into selling timeshare. I hope however, that they see this report and that some people will take a lesson from this on what company not to go to work for."

Unlike the settlement reached with Westgate three years ago that was never paid, this time the judge ordered the money in escrow before ever signing the order. David Siegel now has three days to pay it in full. Siegel's attorney attempted to get a clause into the settlement preventing any of the agents from saying anything negative about the company, but the judge struck that, saying, it's a free country, say what you want. The plaintiff's attorney in the case is also required to have a check in hand of each former timeshare agent no later than March 19th.

Siegel's attorneys had nothing to say after the hearing.  

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