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Elkhart County RV Startup Plan Scrapped

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August 4, 2010 by   Leave a Comment

Former Cikira RV co-owner Ray Belcher won’t be starting up a new firm in Goshen, Ind., afterall.

He told The Goshen News Tuesday (Aug. 3) that he will return to Michigan to straighten out legal matters instead.

Belcher opted not to start up a new company in Goshen after the Goshen City Council decided Tuesday it will not overturn the veto of a tax phase-in for local businessman Carl Van Gilst. A resolution to revisit the veto was removed from the council’s agenda by a unanimous vote from its members at the beginning of Tuesday evening’s meeting.

The phase-in, originally approved by the council at its July 6 meeting, would have offered a savings of $27,000 in taxes on the property. According to information attached to the resolution, Van Gilst would also waive the first month of rent for his proposed tenant, Belcher, who had planned to open a new recreational vehicle company at the 2502 Dierdorff Road building

Just two days later, the resolution was vetoed by Mayor Allan Kauffman, after Belcher’s criminal history came to light. Belcher was convicted of felony embezzlement in 2008 after leaching more than $600,000 from Sturgis, Mich.-based Cikira RV, which he co-owned. As a result of the conviction, Belcher was ordered to pay $652,035.18 in restitution, of which he had paid $183 as of July 9, 2010. He was also barred from carrying any debt.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Council President Tom Stump said he was told by Van Gilst that Belcher had chosen not to pursue creating the company. A call to Belcher confirmed that fact.

“I think it’s a situation where I need to get my own house in order a little better and make sure I get some things straightened out,” Belcher said. “I’ve asked Carl and (Councilman) Darryl (Riegsecker) just to pull back for a little while.”

Riegsecker is acting Realtor for the property.

Belcher added that he is returning to Michigan to contest rulings by the judge in his 2008 case, claiming that no restitution hearing was ever held.

“I respect the judge,” Belcher said, “but I don’t agree with the decisions that were made.”

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