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Justin French Fallout

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Justin French's problems continue to mount. As federal authorities begin sorting through hundreds of boxes seized during a raid of the developer's offices Thursday, the Bank of Hampton Roads is suing an architect who worked for French, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. The Richmond-based architect, Todd Dykshorn, is accused of overstating bank draws on a $17 million loan to renovate two buildings in Scott's Addition. The Bank of Hampton Roads inherited the loan from Gateway Bank & Trust. Gateway merged with Hampton Roads Bankshares, parent for Bank of Hampton Roads, two years ago. In 2007, Gateway Bank acquired the Bank of Richmond.

The connections are worth keeping track of. Justin French, born in San Diego, grew up in Virginia Beach, graduated from First Colonial High School and later attended Old Dominion University.

When French began applying for real estate loans in the last four or five years, there some who questioned his sources of income, a source tells Style. The state Department of Historic Resources has a “substantial number” of French's historic tax credit projects under review, as well. The state review, says Kathleen Kilpatrick, DHR's director, is related to the final stage in the process. In order to receive historic tax credits from both the state and federal government -- worth 45 percent of the project's total cost -- developers must submit detailed audits confirming how much money was spent renovating the historic property. For renovation projects over $100,000, those expenses must be certified by a CPA.

What started as a public spat with Markel Corp. is turning into something much bigger. The fallout has only just begun. More to come. 

Scott Bass

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