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Von Schmidt found not guilty
LIVINGSTON – Houston-area real estate developer Charles Von Schmidt was found not guilty by a Polk County district court jury of all charges related to a buyout agreement involving lakeside vacation homes. Von Schmidt was indicted in November 2015 on felony charges of securing the execution of a document by deception, hindering a secured creditor, tampering with a government record, fraudulent filing of a financing statement and making a false statement to obtain property or credit. The jury returned its not guilty verdict on Friday, Feb. 3 after a weeklong trial before Judge David Wilson in 411th District Court in Livingston. Von Schmidt, president of Vacation Home Builders, was represented by Houston attorneys Chip B. Lewis and Alicia O'Neill of Chip Lewis Law, Conroe attorney Steve Jackson and Lufkin attorney Melissa Hannah. "All I have done is work tirelessly to build beautiful homes in the Cedar Point development on Lake Livingston," Mr. Von Schmidt said following the verdict. "My family and I are deeply grateful the jury saw through these absurd allegations against me." According to his attorneys, the case grew out of claims by investors Jack and Penny Uselton who filed a civil suit against Von Schmidt that was quickly dismissed. Two weeks later, the couple pursued criminal charges through the Polk County District Attorney's office. The Useltons testified that they had been tricked into entering a buyout agreement with Von Schmidt. Rebuttal testimony from Jeremy Robin, consulting director at the international accounting firm BDO, indicated Von Schmidt had paid the Useltons more than fairly and in fact was ahead of his scheduled payments by $150,000. Also testifying for Von Schmidt was Polk County real estate lawyer Malcolm Jones, who educated jurors on the intricacies of complex real estate transactions, Pam Pierce of Polk County Abstract Inc. and Polk County Clerk Schelana Hock. Mr. Von Schmidt intends to proceed with his current and proposed development projects in Polk County, as well as several projects in Harris County.