Bondurant home sells to mortgage holder

PINEDALE – On Friday morning at 10 a.m., Sheriff K.C. Lehr read aloud the very long legal notice explaining that a 1-acre property with a home and cabin at 83 Dell Creek Rd. in Bondurant would be sold to the highest bidder in a foreclosure sale.

No one stepped forward to place a bid – until Jackson attorney Frank Hess rushed through the door and said, “550,000 for John D. Phillips.”

John D. Phillips is the Georgia businessman who called in his mortgage of millions to former Little Jennie Ranch owner Stanley E. Thomas, who bought the ranch in 2005 and the nearby home in 2007 separately.

The 1-acre parcel’s home is county-appraised at $454,146. Hess said Phillips wanted a clear title to the property before he decides what to do with it. He had loaned more to Thomas – around $44 million – much of it as a second mortgage on the Little Jennie Ranch that he had paid $46 million for after borrowing $30 million as a first mortgage from Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

The Little Jennie went up for sale several times in the past decade as an exclusive property and in 2005 was billed as one of the country’s most expensive real estate sales.

Beset by massive bankruptcies in Georgia and foreclosures on the Little Jennie Ranch, Thomas and Met Life battled in

was required to pay to keep the high-priced ranch. Ninth District Court over how much he

As the first mortgage holder, Met Life was first in line to receive any payments after Thomas’s default. As the second mortgage holder on the ranch, Phillips stands to lose most, if not all of that investment.

But Phillips was the only mortgage holder, for $13 million, for the 83 Dell Creek Rd. property and started the foreclosure process without any court filings. By the time of the sale, Thomas’ total debt against the property was almost $15 million.

Not so simple for the Little Jennie Ranch. In January 2017, Thomas lost the 3,011- acre historic ranch, a collection of adjacent homesteads and ranches gathered by previous owners. Met Life filed a Ninth District Court complaint in 2013 against Thomas and Fourth Quarter Properties 86, LLC., bought back his $30-million debt for more than $26 million and later transferred its assets to JLC Wyoming, managed by The Reserve Group and CEO R. Mark Hamlin, Jr., of Akron, Ohio.

After Hamlin replaced Met Life in the lawsuit, he filed motions seeking Thomas’ payment of an additional $9 million. Judge Marv Tyler, who had earlier rejected Thomas’ request to sell the ranch for $35 to Chinese investors, found for Hamlin.

Hamlin now owns and operates the Little Jennie Ranch – but last month Thomas filed a notice of appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court of Judge Tyler’s ruling.

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