Teflon Man

Now playing in River Oaks, Gary Ross has stayed one step ahead of trouble and judgments across the country.

HIDE-AND-GO-SEEK
It can be tough to keep up with the money aflow, for investors, partners and investigators alike.

In the early 1990s, Gary Ross had no trouble finding investors for projects in Florida and the Virgin Islands.

In Palm Beach, he made fast friends with another colorful entrepreneur named Greg Holloway, and Holloway's wife, a woman who sometimes refers to herself in court documents as "The Baroness Laura Andre."

Holloway opened up a whole new world for Ross when he turned him on to rare coins. In 1989, Holloway, then based outside Philadelphia, and a partner had bought an interest in a nearly $2 million proof set that included the 1804 Silver Dollar, one of the world's rarest coins. Several years later, he found a group of Palm Beach high-rollers to invest in a coin fund. One day, the investors received a notice that all the money was gone.

The resulting 1995 lawsuit uncovered a massive fraud, and in 1997, Holloway was socked with a $5 million consent judgment. Holloway claimed he was destitute and didn't pay one single coin, rare or otherwise; by 2003, interest and attorneys' fees bumped the judgment slightly north of $17 million. In 2008, a Pennsylvania judge issued an arrest warrant for Holloway, for failing to disclose "the nature and extent of his assets." Holloway allegedly fled the country. Michael Zindler, the attorney representing the investors, believes he's living in Belgium. Holloway didn't reply to e-mails from the Houston Press.

Zindler's 2007 motion for Holloway's arrest alleged a complex scheme of financial hide-and-go-seek, with money flowing in and out of corporate accounts belonging to Ross, the Baroness and Holloway's elderly parents. This would later lead to a falling-out between Holloway and Ross. Some of this money allegedly went to the purchase of the River Oaks home that Ross moved into in 2004. By 2007, Holloway believed Ross secretly squeezed all the equity from the house, robbing Holloway's parents of any money they could have made off the property.

In July 2007, Holloway fired off a heated e-mail to Ross and their attorney, Kent Huffman, stating, "I just found out that Gary/Holly have taken out second and third mortgages on the property that has wiped out almost all, if not all, of the equity. My dad has been cheated out of $500,000..."

Holloway also accused Ross of scamming the Baroness out of $350,000 after the sale of a St. John home in which she held interest. "I expect Gary to stop the BS right now and offer restitution for the above," Holloway wrote. "No more excuses."

That month, Holloway also faxed a River Oaks resident familiar with Ross, accusing Ross of playing the pauper the whole time: "Gary told me that he has no fax or telephone at his $500 a month apartment. He has told me that he has been living there for a year now. He even went so far as to say that he had to jump through all kinds of hoops to keep this hidden from his friends in the community. For instance, he said he had to pretend he was driving to visit a sick friend, as the apt. was in a bad section of town...Gary begged me just two weeks ago for $2,000 so he could pay his back rent, as he was about to be evicted and thrown out on the street....Gary told me he was working as a laborer to get food money. He told me that he frequently went without money for food for days at a time. I have really been played for a sucker." Craig Malisow

craig.malisow@houstonpress.com

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