A jury has awarded $43.6 million to a Little Rock man who claimed he was defrauded by a business owner who, at one point, had owned businesses in Camden, according to court documents.
Kristian Nelson was the defendant in a lawsuit that alleged he defrauded Richard Toll out of millions of dollars and used some of those funds to establish a business in Camden, according to statements Nelson made in a deposition.
The Camden News first reported on the suit in August 2020, when Toll, 89, of Little Rock alleged that Nelson, a businessman associated with Hawgz Blues Cafe, had defrauded him of $4.5 million over a period of several years.
The lawsuit alleged that over a period of three years, starting in September of 2017 and continuing through June of 2020, Nelson acquired loans from Toll, ostensibly to help his businesses. He first loaned Nelson $10,000, according to court documents, which Nelson said he needed in order to cover hot checks written to cover expenses at Hawgz Blues Cafe's Little Rock location, which he said he owned.
Camden Mayor Julian Lott posted in June 2020 on Facebook that Hawgz Blues Cafe, as well as a car dealership business called I Sell 4 U Auto, would be locating in Camden soon; the post was accompanied by two photos showing Lott and Nelson together at the Hawgz Blues Cafe location in North Little Rock.
In a deposition recorded in September of 2020, lawyers questioned Nelson on his activities.
Nelson said in the deposition that he "didn't remember the date" he opened up a Camden property, nor did he remember who owned the property.
"Q. You don't remember who owns the property in Camden where you're operating a car dealership?
"A. It was a piece of paper I know", the deposition reads.
Nelson said during the deposition he was leasing a property at 1585 California in Camden for an auto-parts retail business. Nelson said some of the money loaned to him by Toll was used to to buy the auto parts for sale there. The address 1585 California is listed as the The Elements Apartments.
Nelson stated he could not remember the answer to questions asked of him and exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to several questions during the deposition.
The jury found that that Kristian Nelson committed fraud causing damages to Richard Toll. They also held that Hawgz Blues Cafe and I Sell 4 U Auto Sales as responsible since Nelson was acting as an agent of the businesses.
They found that Toll suffered damages of $4,642,706.38 and Nelson, Hawgz Blues Cafe and I Sell 4 U Auto additionally owed $39,000,000 in punitive fees.
Nelson must also pay a rate equal to the Federal Reserve primary credit rate of .50 percent plus 2 percent annum.
Caitlan Butler contributed to this report.