The owners of Travel Lite RV are facing a lawsuit alleging fraud and breach of contract for $2 million in a $4 million real estate transaction last year.
Dustin and Lindsey Johns are being sued by Michael Dewitt in complaint papers filed Friday in Kosciusko Superior Court IV.
Dewitt alleges the Johns entered into a purchase agreement on July 14, 2018, for 11199, 11200 and 11190 NE Wawasee Drive, Syracuse, for $4 million. The purchase agreement amendment states Johns would transfer 3.5 shares of Travel Lite Inc. stock, valued at $2.1 million, to Dewitt at closing, along with $1.885 million in cash and a $15,000 earnest money deposit.
Dewitt claims the Johns provided him with fraudulent financial information regarding Travel Lite Inc., and the Travel Lite Stock in connection with the sale and transfer of the stock. The sale of the stock in exchange for the real estate was a transaction covered by the Indiana Uniform Securities Act, Ind. Code 23-19.
Dewitt is asking the court to order the Johns to transfer the real estate to him and he will return the partial consideration previously paid. Dewitt is also seeking $2.1 million in damages – the value of the stock from the deal – plus 8% interest, along with attorney fees and court costs.
Travel Lite RV committed to a $5.2 million expansion project in 2017 and moved company headquarters from New Paris to the 6 & 13 Technology and Industrial Park in Syracuse.
Rumors that the business is closing were circulating in Syracuse in the past few weeks, leaving Syracuse Town Manager Mike Noe scratching his head and concerned.
“He has not spoken to me at all,” Noe said. “It’s all just been hearsay about the company and I’ve read a couple articles that says they’re restructuring. I tried to call the company and I’ve called HR and all they could confirm was that they laid people off.”
Noe said he’s concerned about what will go in the industrial park if Travel Lite’s future is uncertain.
“It’s very concerning. It’s a loss of jobs and there’s a lot of new buildings out there that need to be filled,” Noe said.
Noe said last week he had heard rumors that the Johns’ family home was half funded through an investor in the company, but that the investor “has deep pockets and I don’t think they’d let that go.”
In a story published Thursday in the Goshen News, Dustin Johns was quoted as saying, “The company will get back to work Oct. 21 with an overall loss of about 70 jobs.”
Calls to Travel Lite were not answered and phone messages left were not returned.
Dustin Johns was arrested Sept. 11 after turning himself in on a warrant stemming from an Aug. 10 driving while intoxicated investigation. According to the probable cause filed Sept. 6 for that Class A misdemeanor charge, Dustin Johns allegedly crashed his SUV into a yard at 905 S. Harkless Drive, Syracuse, at 2:12 a.m., causing the vehicle to flip onto its side. Once first responders pulled Dustin Johns out of the vehicle’s sunroof, he was taken to Kosciusko Community Hospital for a blood draw. Results came back his blood alcohol content was 0.25%, more than three times the legal limit.
Dustin Johns is scheduled to appear in court at 1 p.m. Friday for the OWI charge.
An attorney was not listed for the Johns in either case for comment.
Dustin Johns’ father, Larry Johns, founded Travel Lite RV in 1968. Dustin and Lindsey Johns took over the business in?January 2015.