Alan Davis, the founder and longtime owner of the A.J. Davis & Co. menswear store, has sued to wrest one of Al Parish's investments from the receiver who is selling off the fallen economist's estate.
In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston, Davis alleges that part of an undeveloped 6-acre parcel on the Cainhoy peninsula belongs to him, not the 600 or so other investors that Parish defrauded.
The document names as defendants Parish and Gregory Hays, the Atlanta-based receiver in the government's case against Parish, who was accused last year of bilking $90 million from 500 investors.
David Dantzler, Hays' attorney, said the land is one of many Parish investments marked by a sloppy and incomplete stream of paperwork.
"We have not been able to honor handshake deals," Dantzler said. "This one is more than a handshake, but it's far from being perfect."
Davis could not be reached Wednesday. His attorney, Robert Varnado, declined to comment.
Parish and two local developers — H. Edward Tiencken and Jim Wilson — bought the parcel of land in 2005 through a company they formed, Cainhoy Project LLC.
The former Charleston Southern University economist paid $100,000 for a 25 percent stake in the venture, according to Davis' suit. Parish allegedly then sold his share to Davis a few months later for $100,000 in cash and $65,000 that Davis had invested in Parish's unregistered investment "pools."
Dantzler acknowledged that Parish cashed a $100,000 check from Davis around the time of the alleged sale, but he also said the contract between the two was a shoddy document drawn up by Parish.
He said the economist never delivered any sort of receipt or share certificate.
"We're not trying to beat Davis out of anything, but the documents are incomplete at best," he said. "Being a court-appointed fiduciary, we can't just take people's word."
Dantzler said that a rash of investors have come forward claiming ownership of specific pieces of the booty that Parish built up with some $90 million in investors' cash.
He has encouraged them to detail their arrangement in a claims report rather than a lawsuit.
"We think that's the best way to deal with these things," Dantzler said.
Parish's ownership stake in the Cainhoy plot was collected with his other assets when the government levied fraud charges against him in April. Dantzler said Hays sold Parish's share of the company back to the two other investors in the summer for $50,000.
Davis lost an unspecified amount in Parish's "informal investment pools." He also sold A.J. Davis & Co., his King Street clothing store, to Parish in early 2005. Davis stayed on as manager and helped liquidate the business in late June after 23 years.
Parish pleaded guilty in October to two federal counts of fraud and one of lying to investigators and faces decades in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.