A West Monroe couple is suing Guaranty Bank & Trust, two of the bank’s employees, and a West Monroe contractor, claiming the defendants schemed to convert the couple’s money and property for their own benefit.
Michael and Ellyn Langston filed the lawsuit in Fourth Judicial District Court claiming the defendants — Guaranty Bank, bank employees William “Bill” Crawford and Stacey McFarlin, and contractor/developer Dennie Huddleston — were responsible for the couple’s profound financial losses.
Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office public information officer Glenn Springfield said Tuesday an investigation is underway into Dennie Huddleston’s activities.
West Monroe attorney Richard Fewell Jr., who is representing the Langstons, filed the lawsuit on April 25.
According to the lawsuit, the Langstons’ claims for damages stemmed from work performed by a spec home business co-owned by Michael Langston and Huddleston’s son, Joshua Huddleston. Spec homes, or speculative homes, are homes built before buyers are secured for the homes. Michael Langston and Joshua Huddleston built the spec homes as LH Group LLC. When Langston and Joshua Huddleston built spec homes, they hired Dennie Huddleston as the contractor or builder.
The lawsuit claimed that Dennie Huddleston possibly pledged $200,000 in profits from the sale of one of those spec homes to pay a court judgment in a separate lawsuit in which he was involved.
The lawsuit suggested the $200,000 pledge stemmed from the sale of a spec home in the Eagle Ridge subdivision behind Kiroli Park in West Monroe. A spec home financed by Guaranty Bank on behalf of LH Group at 213 Eagle Ridge Road was closed at a price of $570,000 on Dec. 4, 2018. LH Group had borrowed $305,000 and Langston put up another $20,000 for the construction, which was performed by Dennie Huddleston. Langston ended up paying suppliers another $4,800, according to the lawsuit.
“Dennie Huddleston pledged $200,000 in a court judgment on December 14, 2018 on a corporation (LH Group) he did not own nor in which he had any authority to act,” stated the lawsuit. “Defendant Huddleston fraudulently signed these documents in court. In addition, defendant Huddleston, as builder of the LH Group spec house located at 213 Eagle Ridge Lane, West Monroe, Louisiana, used the plaintiffs’ account at Acme Brick fraudulently by charging materials for other homes in excess of $50,0000.00.”
The lawsuit included a number of salacious details, ranging from an alleged affair between Dennie Huddleston and McFarlin, Guaranty Bank’s loan assistant, to a standoff between law enforcement and a renter in another spec home built on Wallace Road. The renter, according to the suit, was one of Dennie Huddleston’s relatives.
According to the lawsuit, McFarlin was responsible for inspecting building sites to determine whether sufficient work was completed to warrant a draw on the loan by the contractor. She evaluated these draw requests on a Wallace Road spec home built by LH Group, according to the lawsuit.
“Defendant (Stacey) McFarlin, and Dennie Huddleston had an affair,” stated the lawsuit. “With defendant McFarlin and Huddleston being a couple, Huddleston gave her gifts of a Rolex watch, cash, cases of wine, jewelry, etc., while she handled the draws from LH Group spec home, 308 Wallace Road, and being a gossip and insider of plaintiffs’ personal finances and enabled Guaranty Bank to fraudulently empower Huddleston and McFarlin with money converted from plaintiffs.”
The Ouachita Citizen learned that Downsville Mayor Reggie Skains and Dennie Huddleston were reportedly engaged in an altercation stemming from each man’s affections for McFarlin.
Skains said he and McFarlin have been longtime companions and “we’ve never split up.”
When asked about a reported confrontation between he and Dennie Huddleston, Skains said, “I was pretty upset” and that it was “a true statement” that he and Dennie Huddleston do not like each other.
“I really don’t know how he got hurt,” Skains said. “One thing you can say — and it’s important — she (McFarlin) returned all those gifts. Every one of them was returned to him.”
In the incident involving a standoff with the renter, the Langstons asked that an investigator with the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office meet them at a spec home at 308 Wallace Road because Dennie Huddleston had rented out the house and he had no authority to do so. The spec home was built by LH Group, which had not yet found a buyer for the property. The Langstons arrived first and were confronted by a man pointing a shotgun at them, according to the lawsuit. They left the scene and contacted the investigator.
Deputies were dispatched to the scene and after a 1.5-hour standoff, they were able to take Lindsay Hardwick (one of Dennie Huddleston’s family members) into custody, according to the lawsuit. Hardwick reportedly was the man pointing the shotgun at the Langstons.
The Langstons notified Crawford, the bank’s senior vice president and branch manager, of Hardwick’s arrest at the Wallace Road house and informed him that Dennie Huddleston did not have the authority to rent the house because LH Group had a mortgage loan on the property.
Crawford and McFarlin “are protective of Dennie Huddleston,” which has “created an extreme conflict of interest for Guaranty Bank’s entire corporation,” the lawsuit stated.
Meanwhile, the Langstons have moved into their new home near LH Group’s spec home on Eagle Ridge Road but have yet to receive a certificate of occupancy from the Ouachita Parish Police Jury or the title to a half-lot next door that they bought from Dennie Huddleston, according to the lawsuit.
The Langstons also sued the Ouachita Parish Police Jury, claiming the parish governing authority failed to properly train its employees to inspect the construction of the Langstons’ home while it was being built.
Dennie Huddleston began construction on the Langstons’ home on Eagle Ridge Lane in July 2017, and they closed on it Dec. 22, 2017.
“Despite the fact that plaintiffs have paid for lot 14A (the half-lot), Huddleston has refused to transfer ownership of same and has further mortgaged the lot, along with other lots, to Guaranty Bank for $409,800,” the lawsuit stated.
The lawsuit stated that Crawford and McFarlin “played a part in the plaintiffs’ enormous financial, emotional and physical risks.”
“Huddleston’s reputation, including financial background check, should have alerted Guaranty Bank to stay clear of any transactions with him,” stated the lawsuit. “Huddleston’s inside track with Guaranty Bank, as a result of his affair with its (vice president), (Stacey) McFarlin, has cost plaintiffs and their organization thousands of dollars, not including legal fees, wasted time, mental anguish, emotional and physical stress.”
The lawsuit did not ask for a specific amount of damages. The lawsuit claimed Guaranty Bank owes damages because it participated in conversion, conspiracy to commit fraud and breach of privacy.
Dennie Huddleston, the lawsuit stated, participated in fraud by inducement; breach of contract; conversion; negligence; intentional infliction of emotional stress; breach of warranty; violation of the new home warranty act; and failing to utilize good care commensurate with the circumstances.
McFarlin, according to the suit, participated in breach of privacy; conversion; breach of fiduciary duty; and failing to utilize good care commensurate with the circumstances.
The Police Jury, the lawsuit stated, was negligent in its supervision and training of employees; and failing to utilize good care commensurate with the circumstances and conditions as they existed at all pertinent times.