EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A 42-year-old El Paso County man who is accused of selling more than a quarter millions dollars in wedding services at his Black Forest venue is now facing a separate civil litigation and criminal prosecution.
Richard E. Reynolds allegedly defrauded 40 couples out of their money, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office stated in a press release last week.
Reynolds was arrested Oct. 27 by ECPSO investigators and faces a total of 16 charges, all felonies, ranging from simple theft to criminal impersonation and forgery.
Per EPCSO Detective, Karl Mai, found the 40 victims live between Thornton and Pueblo. Reynolds received more than $260,000.00 from them and provided no services in return.
An advisement hearing was held Thursday in the criminal case.
The day before, a civil court judge signed an order demanding Reynolds repay 18 people who collectively sued him for damages. The judge awarded a total of more than $195,000.
Kimberly Hickenbottom testified in court in the case.
“We just want our money back at this point,” Hickenbottom told CBS4. “If we can get more, that’s great for us. But it’s not what we’re looking for.”
Hickenbottom first met Reynolds in March of 2019 and scheduled her wedding for the following May.
Then COVID-19 hit.
She delayed the event, all the while making payments to Reynolds and absorbing minor purchases — like a disco ball — that were promised to be used in her wedding but kept by Reynolds’ venue, the Black Forest Retreat.
In fact, Hickenbottom said she learned she had made her final payment to Reynolds days after he had been sent a cease-and-desist order.
“He was probably short of cash. We were very much taken advantage of,” Hickenbottom said.
She had planned to rent the Black Forest Retreat at 11130 Teachout Road for four days. The Christian theme of the resort appealed to Hickenbottom, who was in a wheelchair after an accident. Instead of tying the knot, she ended up losing almost $12,000 of she and her future husband Mark’s savings.
“That was very aggravating. He was a bad guy. I’d like to think he didn’t intend to be a bad guy. I hope that was the case.”
Hickenbottom joined the civil lawsuit that was filed in March of this year. Reynolds did not attend a single court date.
“Defendant has been non-participatory in this matter, ” El Paso County District Court Judge David Gilbert wrote in his decision. “… defendant’s conduct in this litigation lacks substantial justification.”
CBS4 was unable to determine through online court records if Reynolds attended Thursday’s criminal hearing. He is scheduled to be back in court Nov. 16.
Hickenbottom had purchased a cabin on a neighboring property for “family overflow,” she said. When she called cancel that reservation in light of the problems next door, James at the Black Forest Lodge offered to host the wedding and the wedding party at no cost.
“I don’t think he will ever know how much that meant to us,” Hickenbottom said.
She and Mark were married Sept. 5.