Michael Porter is charged with seven counts of felony fraud and seven counts of felony theft, which could mean years behind bars.
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (CBS5) -
Investigators spent two years building a case against Valley homebuilder Michael Porter. The criminal investigation is so complicated that investigators gathered 40,000 pages of evidence - dealing with bank accounts, multiple victims and millions of dollars.
The charges against Porter are serious: seven counts of felony fraud and seven counts of felony theft, which could mean years behind bars.
"This allegedly happened in May 2005 through June of ... it looks like August of 2008," said a Valley judge during Porter's initial appearance in court Wednesday.
CBS 5 Investigates began looking into Porter three years ago, as the complaints began to stack up.
"The subcontractors were calling us saying that they weren't getting paid, that we owed them a lot of money," said Howard Weber, Porter's former business partner at Woodbridge Custom Homes.
Weber told CBS 5 Investigates during a 2009 interview that they built high-end, lavish homes in North Scottsdale. And the company did well during the boom. But then money started disappearing.
"We found out that he was taking money and putting it into his own account," Weber said.
CBS 5 Investigates followed the money trail to Sin City, where sources say Porter dropped thousands at lavish hotels and casinos like: The Venetian, Caesars Palace, MGM and The Wynn - back in 2007 and 2008. That was around the same time contractors said Porter was telling them he had no money to pay them.
"Mike wants to be rich and famous," said Mike Pile of Pinnacle Window and Doors. "I mean, he lives the lifestyles of the rich and famous."
They said Porter flaunted his money.
"Nice houses, nice cars, nice clothes, trips to Las Vegas, private planes to go to Vegas," Pile said.
Porter's attorney said there is no money.
"He does not have any liquid assets," she said during court Wednesday.
But Porter did post $50,000 bond after court.
Porter, a Canadian citizen, will be required to surrender his passport during his next court appearance Oct. 8.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:51 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:51:53 GMT
The tragic death of a young Saginaw boy has led to a lawsuit against a local medical examiner. Elijah Dillard, 6, passed away in March. Police say it was the result of child abuse and his father is facingMore >
The tragic death of a young Saginaw boy has led to a lawsuit against a local medical examiner. More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:37 PM EDT2014-04-24 00:37:37 GMT
Two Mid-Michigan grandparents may finally get a chance to visit their grand kids in spite of a parent's objection. Local grandparents, Robert and Judith Porter, have been suing for the right to visitMore >
Two Mid-Michigan grandparents may finally get a chance to visit their grand kids in spite of a parent's objection.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:31 PM EDT2014-04-23 16:31:28 GMT
Three teens are reported to have been killed after leading police on a high speed chase in a stolen vehicle. The accident happened on I-75 in Detroit over the weekend. Several news outlets report a 17-year-oldMore >
Authorities have released the names of three teenagers who were killed when their stolen Jeep went off an embankment and crashed upside down in Detroit.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:27 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:27:46 GMT
Police in a northeastern Detroit suburb say they have found a man's decomposed body inside a portable toilet at a Lake St. Clair boat launching site. St. Clair Shores police tell WDIV-TV they think theMore >
An autopsy shows that an unidentified man whose decomposed body was found inside a portable toilet at a Lake St. Clair boat launching site died of exposure.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:11 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:11:58 GMT
A woman from Plymouth said organ donation changed her family's life. Ten years ago, Tina Ray said she had a conversation with her 20-year-old son, Nick Ray, that most people do not want to have. "He andMore >
A woman from Plymouth said organ donation changed her family's life.More >
Monday, April 21 2014 2:07 PM EDT2014-04-21 18:07:19 GMT
A local business manager was stunned to see her most recent water bill. Kim Haken runs the Columbus Laundromat in Bay City. She says when she opened the bill, it read that the company owed $18-thousand.WhenMore >
A local business manager was stunned to see her most recent water bill. More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:24 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:24:15 GMT
Authorities say a 31-year-old Detroit woman whose body was found near her dehydrated 8-month-old daughter was stabbed to death.The Wayne County medical examiner's office identifies the woman as CharmanekMore >
Authorities say a 31-year-old Detroit woman whose body was found near her dehydrated 8-month-old daughter was stabbed to death.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 4:57 PM EDT2014-04-23 20:57:36 GMT
Authorities are investigating a deadly plane crash. Officials tell TV 5 a small plane went down Saturday afternoon in a field in Shiawassee County. Two people are confirmed dead. Officials are still onMore >
Funeral arrangements have been set for one of the two Mid-Michigan men who died in a plane crash over the weekend.More >