Trump Jr. stum­bled mak­ing his mark in busi­ness

He and a busi­ness part­ner racked up law­suits and tax liens in South Carolina ven­ture

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - BY SHAWN BOBURG AND ROBERT O’HAR­ROW JR.

As Don­ald Trump Jr. tried to step from the shadow of his bil­lion­aire fa­ther, he forged a lon­grun­ning busi­ness part­ner­ship with an en­er­getic deal­maker from Utah who has been dogged by law­suits, bankruptcies and busi­ness fail­ures.

Don Jr. and Jeremy Black­burn got to know each other nearly two decades ago while tour­ing the West in a he­li­copter in search of ranch­land that the el­der Trump might buy his son as a col­lege grad­u­a­tion gift.

In 2009, Don Jr. and Black­burn started a com­pany that they claimed would rev­o­lu­tion­ize low­cost hous­ing around the world, us­ing con­crete pan­els to form pre­fab homes. They ar­ranged mil­lions in fi­nanc­ing and bought a ware­house in an in­dus­trial neigh­bor­hood in North Charleston, S.C.

Over the next five years, the ware­house be­came a base of op­er­a­tions for mul­ti­ple start-up firms launched by Black­burn and sup­ported by Don Jr. But each of the busi­nesses tum­bled, leav­ing be­hind a trail of law­suits, un­paid taxes, and an­gry in­vestors and lenders.

The story be­hind Don Jr.’s as­so­ci­a­tion with Black­burn of­fers in­sights into his busi­ness record as his fa­ther steps into the pres­i­dency and he and his brother Eric as­sume con­trol of the fam­ily’s sprawl­ing multi­bil­lion-dol­lar busi­ness em­pire. It also shows the dif­fi­cul­ties the Trump broth­ers face in repli­cat­ing their fa­ther’s suc­cess.

Don Jr., 39, has spent most of his ca­reer work­ing un­der the um­brella of the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion. His ven­ture with Black­burn stands out as a rare foray when he tried to make it on his own.

But he never broke en­tirely free from his fa­ther’s in­flu­ence. He used the Trump name to open doors, at­tract in­vestors and ar­range fi­nanc­ing. When the com­pany owned by Don Jr. and Black­burn ran into trou­ble, the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion pro­vided le­gal sup­port and his fa­ther even­tu­ally bailed him out.

Don Jr. did not re­spond to re­quests for in­ter­views. Alan Garten, gen­eral coun­sel for the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion, played down Don Jr.’s role, say­ing he had an own­er­ship stake in only two busi­nesses with Black­burn.

“He was a pas­sive in­vestor, and he lost money,” Garten said. “I’m sure he wishes he didn’t do it. He viewed it as a start-up with ev­ery in­ten­tion of suc­ceed­ing. It just failed.”

Black­burn, 44, said he has had suc­cesses along with set­backs, not­ing that he has been in­volved in com­mu­nity work and hous­ing pro­grams. He told The Wash­ing­ton Post that Don Jr.’s role was lim­ited and that the pres­i­dent’s son “was not re­spon­si­ble for the fail­ure” of their com­pany, Ti­tan At­las Man­u­fac­tur­ing. Black­burn said the op­er­a­tions were com­pletely sep­a­rate from the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Tak­ing se­lected snapshots along the lin­ear path of time can paint any­one in a bad way,” Black­burn said in one of sev­eral emails to The Post, which were copied to the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s gen­eral coun­sel. “The leader in base­ball last year failed to get on base over 50 per­cent of the time, and that was the leader. Michael Jor­dan didn’t make 50 per­cent of his shots (damn close though). Were they fail­ures, does a high­light reel of all those misses and strike­outs show the true pic­ture?”

This ac­count is based on a re­view of thou­sands of doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing law­suits, busi­ness fil­ings, in­ter­nal fi­nan­cial records and emails. The Post also in­ter­viewed more than a dozen busi­ness as­so­ci­ates of Don Jr. and Black­burn.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two men dates to not long af­ter Don Jr. grad­u­ated from the Whar­ton School at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia in 2000. He was ex­plor­ing the Rock­ies, hunt­ing and camp­ing as he con­sid­ered his next step. Black­burn, who had fledg­ling cat­tle and real es­tate busi­nesses at the time, showed the young scion ranch­land by he­li­copter.

“It was huge, one of the last big ranches in the West,” said Dou­glas Dur­bano, a Utah lawyer and busi­ness­man who part­nered with Black­burn and Don Jr. in a large real es­tate deal in South Carolina.

The two young men were a study in con­trasts.

Don Jr. grew up in one of the most high-pro­file and flam­boy­ant fam­i­lies in the coun­try.

Black­burn was a striv­ing for­mer Na­tional Guard mem­ber whose fa­ther was a fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer at a small Utah col­lege.

They dis­cov­ered that they shared a pas­sion for hunt­ing and kick­box­ing — and they both wanted to make their fi­nan­cial mark, ac­cord­ing to records and in­ter­views.

Don Jr. even­tu­ally re­turned to New York and took a job with the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion, help­ing over­see con­struc­tion projects in Man­hat­tan and abroad. He went on to as­sume con­trol of the com­pany’s com­mer­cial leas­ing op­er­a­tion.

Dur­ing that time, Black­burn launched a se­ries of new com­pa­nies, he has said. He dab­bled in real es­tate, home mort­gages, in­sur­ance and soft­ware de­vel­op­ment.

Court and busi­ness records show that Black­burn was en­tre­pre­neur­ial and that he some­times pushed too far. In 2006, a fed­eral judge pre­sid­ing over a civil suit brought by an Alabama in­vestor ruled that Black­burn and his as­so­ci­ates had com­mit­ted “fraud and mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion” while pro­mot­ing a work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion in­sur­ance com­pany that never got off the ground. Black­burn con­sented to the judg­ment and agreed to pay $750,000.

Black­burn chalked up the mat­ter to a busi­ness dis­pute that in­volved sev­eral part­ners and said he was put into a bad po­si­tion be­cause of his in­ex­pe­ri­ence. He was 30 when the com­pany started.

“I did not com­mit any fraud, but I did set­tle af­ter the in­fight­ing de­stroyed an op­por­tu­nity for this com­pany,” he told The Post, adding that he “did not un­der­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of the word­ing” when he agreed to the judg­ment.

Along with Dur­bano, Black­burn co-founded a small bank in Lay­ton, Utah, in 2000 that was shut down by state reg­u­la­tors in 2009, records show. Black­burn has said he served on the bank’s board for three years and sold his in­ter­est be­fore the bank was shut­tered. Fed­eral au­di­tors found “ap­par­ent vi­o­la­tions of law and con­tra­ven­tions of pol­icy as­so­ci­ated with the in­sti­tu­tion’s lend­ing prac­tices and insider trans­ac­tions,” ac­cord­ing to a Fed­eral De­posit In­sur­ance Corp. in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port.

Dur­bano and the bank’s other own­ers sued reg­u­la­tors in state and fed­eral court, ar­gu­ing that the bank was il­le­gally seized. Their ap­peal is on­go­ing.

In 2009, Black­burn teamed up with Don Jr. to form Ti­tan At­las Man­u­fac­tur­ing, also known as TAM. Black­burn also ar­ranged for an in­vest­ment by a wealthy farmer he knew from Wash­ing­ton state. The farmer, Lee Eick­meyer, con­trib­uted nearly $1 mil­lion.

Don Jr. was a di­rec­tor of the com­pany and Black­burn its chief ex­ec­u­tive.

The com­pany paid $1.5 mil­lion for an old in­dus­trial ware­house on Pace Street in North Charleston.

The 157,000-square-foot ware­house was far from the glam­our of a clas­sic Trump fam­ily prop­erty. It was full of ma­chin­ery that had be­longed to a lo­cal com­pany that fab­ri­cated con­crete pan­els for con­struc­tion. The low-slung metal struc­ture had few win­dows and took months to put in or­der. It sat on land that for at least two decades had been con­tam­i­nated with toxic sludge from man­u­fac­tur­ing.

The lo­cal com­pany hadn’t found much suc­cess with the pan­els, ac­cord­ing to a for­mer em­ployee, but Don Jr. and Black­burn be­gan mar­ket­ing them as a rev­o­lu­tion­ary way to build cheap, sus­tain­able homes. The idea was to ship the pan­els in kits for easy as­sem­bly.

In late 2010, as the fac­tory be­gan op­er­a­tions and their am­bi­tions soared, Don Jr. and Black­burn trav­eled to the Sonora re­gion of Mex­ico to meet with the state’s gov­er­nor. Don Jr. was iden­ti­fied in a gov­ern­ment news re­lease as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

In Fe­bru­ary 2011, they flew to Colom­bia and gained en­tree to the pres­i­den­tial palace. Pho­tos show Don Jr. and Black­burn sit­ting across from Pres­i­dent Juan Manuel San­tos. Press re­ports said Don Jr. was there to talk about po­ten­tial busi­ness deals; the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion later li­censed the Trump name to a de­vel­oper of a sky­scraper in Bo­gota.

Don Jr.’s last name not only opened doors. It also helped draw in po­ten­tial in­vestors, ac­cord­ing to for­mer as­so­ci­ates. A month af­ter the trip to Colom­bia, Ti­tan At­las Man­u­fac­tur­ing raised $3.4 mil­lion through the sale of se­cu­ri­ties, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments filed with the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion.

At this point, the com­pany had only a hand­ful of work­ers. Among them was the CEO’s fa­ther, Kim­ble Black­burn. The el­der Black­burn had lost his job at the col­lege in Utah and spent time in prison for em­bez­zling more than $150,000, ac­cord­ing to pub­lished re­ports. His con­vic­tion was later ex­punged.

In March 2011, the Black­burns and four other ware­house work­ers posed for a pho­to­graph in front of a trac­tor-trailer loaded with con­crete pan­els with a sign that read: “First TAM Kit shipped to Ar­gentina.”

Black­burn would later tout the reach of their op­er­a­tion.

“We had con­tracts in Mex­ico, Colom­bia, the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, Africa, Mid­dle East,” he said in a de­po­si­tion.

But al­most from the start, there were prob­lems. The ship­ment to Ar­gentina lan­guished on the docks for more than a year, ac­cord­ing to court records. The ship­ping com­pany later sued Ti­tan At­las Man­u­fac­tur­ing for the cost of the freight.

Ti­tan At­las Man­u­fac­tur­ing also ne­glected to pay taxes, doc­u­ments show. By Novem­ber 2011, it was hit with the first of 18 state and fed­eral tax liens to­tal­ing more than $100,000.

Black­burn told The Post that the liens are “not ac­cu­rate.” He said a “law firm spe­cial­iz­ing in tax mat­ters has been re­view­ing and work­ing with the IRS and state agen­cies to re­solve them.”

The same month it re­ceived the first tax lien, the com­pany sought a loan from Deutsche Bank, a lender the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion of­ten used. The bank ar­ranged for a three-year, $3.65 mil­lion loan from DB Pri­vate Wealth Mort­gage, a part of Deutsche Bank that, ac­cord­ing to its web­site, caters to “ul­tra-high­net-worth in­di­vid­u­als.” The loan doc­u­ments iden­ti­fied Don Jr. as the com­pany’s “key prin­ci­pal” and showed that he, Black­burn and Eick­meyer had per­son­ally guar­an­teed the loan.

By early 2012, the taxes, bills and other debts were pil­ing up. An­other source of fi­nan­cial pres­sure was a patent law­suit filed by a com­peti­tor against Ti­tan At­las Man­u­fac­tur­ing over the right to use the con­crete panel tech­nol­ogy.

Three law firms hired to han­dle the lit­i­ga­tion aban­doned the case be­cause they had not been paid, court records show.

A fourth firm was also about to back out over le­gal bills when Black­burn claimed a check was in the mail. He emailed the firm, Men­del­sohn Drucker, with what he said was a postage track­ing num­ber.

But Men­del­sohn Drucker did not re­ceive the money and the firm even­tu­ally sued Ti­tan At­las Man­u­fac­tur­ing for $400,000 in out­stand­ing bills. Dur­ing that law­suit, U.S. District Judge Michael M. Bayl­son found that Black­burn had sent no money de­spite his prom­ises. Bayl­son wrote that TAM had “en­gaged in fraud­u­lent con­duct to in­duce coun­sel to con­tinue to rep­re­sent it,” a move that he said was “will­ful, cul­pa­ble and de­serv­ing of sanc­tion.”

In Jan­uary 2013, af­ter Men­del­sohn Drucker in­di­cated that it was go­ing to in­clude Don Jr. as a de­fen­dant in its law­suit, Garten, the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion gen­eral coun­sel, sent a let­ter threat­en­ing to file an ethics com­plaint against an at­tor­ney at the firm. The case was even­tu­ally set­tled. Black­burn blames TAM’s trou­bles on the patent law­suit, which was set­tled by the com­pany for $2 mil­lion.

“I surely did not un­der­stand at the time the abil­ity of larger, bet­ter­cap­i­tal­ized com­pa­nies to drain and then de­stroy com­pe­ti­tion through an on­go­ing and ex­ten­sive le­gal at­tack,” he told The Post. “De­feat by at­tri­tion be­came un­avoid­able. Some­times the mer­its don’t mat­ter, the abil­ity to stay in the fight does. I paid a heavy price for these mis­takes.”

The stu­dio deal

In 2013, a po­ten­tial bonanza ap­peared for Don Jr. and Black­burn.

Matthew Mel­lon, a mem­ber of the New York City branch of the wealthy Mel­lon fam­ily, in­tro­duced Don Jr. to Manu Ku­maran, a movie pro­ducer from In­dia, Ku­maran told The Post. Ku­maran wanted to build the largest movie stu­dio in the United States and was look­ing for in­vestors. The $700 mil­lion “Stu­dio­plex” planned by Ku­maran’s com­pany, Me­di­ent Stu­dios, would be a cam­pus-style com­plex with more than a dozen sound­stages, an am­phithe­ater, a ho­tel and liv­ing spa­ces for pro­duc­tion work­ers over more than 1,500 acres on the out­skirts of Sa­van­nah, Ga.

Me­di­ent, a pub­licly traded com­pany, needed a builder. Don Jr. sug­gested that Ku­maran con­sider us­ing Ti­tan At­las Man­u­fac­tur­ing’s con­crete tech­nol­ogy. In early 2013, Don Jr. in­tro­duced Ku­maran and Black­burn, and be­gan ar­rang­ing a tour of the Pace Street ware­house.

“Manu did you have a chance to touch base with Jeremy,” Don Jr. asked in a Feb. 28, 2013, email to Ku­maran ob­tained by The Post.

Don Jr.’s emails con­tained the sub­ject line “Visit to Ti­tan At­las” and his ti­tle as “Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of De­vel­op­ment and Ac­qui­si­tions” with the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Hey Don­ald,” Ku­maran wrote back. “Un­for­tu­nately I don’t have Jeremy’s co­or­di­nates. Am stand­ing by to get in touch with him at your con­ve­nience.”

Ku­maran said Don Jr. ul­ti­mately de­cided not to in­vest. But Ku­maran said he still thought Black­burn could help him, even though Black­burn had no ex­pe­ri­ence build­ing movie stu­dios.

In May 2013, while the stu­dio deal was per­co­lat­ing, Black­burn filed for per­sonal bank­ruptcy in fed­eral court in Salt Lake City. His $6.4 mil­lion in debts in­cluded the $3.65 mil­lion Deutsche Bank loan to Ti­tan At­las Man­u­fac­tur­ing and the $750,000 judg­ment against him for civil fraud in 2006.

Ku­maran told The Post that he had no idea that Black­burn was in fi­nan­cial dif­fi­culty.

On July 19, 2013, as Black­burn’s bank­ruptcy case was pend­ing, a new com­pany be­gan op­er­at­ing in the Pace Street ware­house. It was called Ti­tan At­las Global, also known as TAG, and had been cre­ated by Dur­bano in Utah.

On pa­per, TAG was a new com­pany free of the debts that Ti­tan At­las Man­u­fac­tur­ing had ac­crued. But TAG mar­keted the same con­crete-panel kits at the same web­site ad­dress, and it had some of the same work­ers, in­clud­ing Black­burn and his fa­ther.

Don Jr. leased the ware­house and the man­u­fac­tur­ing equip­ment to TAG, but he was not an owner of the new com­pany.

On Nov. 14, 2013, Black­burn was granted bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion and his per­sonal li­a­bil­ity for the $6.4 mil­lion in debts was dis­charged. Black­burn be­came chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ti­tan At­las Global. It had a new group of in­vestors, in­clud­ing a den­tist in Fargo, N.D., and a Wall Street banker.

“I did not start TAG,” Black­burn wrote in an email, with­out pro­vid­ing de­tails. “I was re­cruited and joined many months af­ter it was started.”

In March 2014, Black­burn closed the deal to build Me­di­ent’s stu­dio com­plex. A new Ti­tan At­las Global sub­sidiary, Shore De­vel­op­ment and Con­struc­tion, was to over­see con­struc­tion. Me­di­ent high­lighted that fact in state­ments to in­vestors.

“We have con­sid­ered some of the world’s largest con­struc­tion com­pa­nies to build the Stu­dio­plex,” Ku­maran said in a news re­lease. “TAG tech­nol­ogy is green, rep­re­sents a quan­tum leap in cost and time ef­fi­cien­cies in con­struc­tion and is supremely ro­bust — ca­pa­ble of with­stand­ing over 300 mph winds, 9.1 Richter scale earth­quakes and is en­tirely fire re­sis­tant.”

Bill Fo­ley, an At­lanta-based ar­chi­tect who de­signed the 700-acre Pinewood Stu­dios in At­lanta, was brought on to help Black­burn. Fo­ley told The Post that he be­came alarmed af­ter a few con­fer­ence calls. Ti­tan At­las Global’s con­crete pan­els could not work acous­ti­cally for a movie stu­dio, he said.

“We quickly saw that Ti­tan At­las Global didn’t have any­where near the fire­power to do any project that size,” Fo­ley told The Post. “They had no back­ground at all in stage pro­duc­tion.”

The stu­dio deal even­tu­ally felt apart.

In June 2014, Ku­maran was pushed out of Me­di­ent amid con­cerns about his fi­nan­cial man­a­ge­sig­nif­i­cant ment. In Septem­ber 2016, the SEC ac­cused Ku­maran and two other Me­di­ent ex­ec­u­tives of stock fraud, al­leg­ing in a law­suit that they used news re­leases that mis­led in­vestors about the project’s con­struc­tion.

Ku­maran, who now lives abroad, de­fended the project.

“It was ab­so­lutely not a scam,” he told The Post. “The plan didn’t come to fruition but that’s not be­cause the plan did not have legs.”

The SEC investigation is con­tin­u­ing.

As the stu­dio deal died, the older firm, Ti­tan At­las Man­u­fac­tur­ing, was still on the hook for the $3.65 mil­lion loan from Deutsche Bank that Don Jr. and his part­ners had per­son­ally guar­an­teed. In Novem­ber 2014, days be­fore the loan be­came due, Don Jr.’s fa­ther stepped in. A new Trump com­pany called D B Pace Ac­qui­si­tions pur­chased the loan from the bank and in­her­ited the mort­gage on the ware­house as col­lat­eral.

The next month, D B Pace fore­closed on the prop­erty and even­tu­ally took own­er­ship of the ware­house. The move kept the ware­house in fam­ily hands and be­yond the reach of cred­i­tors.

Eick­meyer, the farmer who had in­vested $950,000 in Ti­tan At­las Man­u­fac­tur­ing, was fu­ri­ous.

In court doc­u­ments, he al­leged that D B Pace was “act­ing as an al­ter ego” for Don Jr. and his fa­ther. Eick­meyer said they had “par­tic­i­pated in a civil con­spir­acy” to keep him from get­ting his money back. Eick­meyer did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Garten said the Trumps were not con­spir­ing but act­ing in­de­pen­dently in their own in­ter­ests.

“The trans­ac­tion was com­pletely arm’s-length,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to his most re­cent per­sonal fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sure form, Pres­i­dent Trump still owns the Pace Street ware­house, where Don Jr. and Black­burn started out. Most of the space in the ware­house — 114,500 square feet — had been leased to an in­dus­trial tex­tile com­pany. In April 2016, the com­pany sued, al­leg­ing that leaks in the roof caused $4.5 mil­lion in dam­age.

In a re­cent court fil­ing, D B Pace said it was not re­spon­si­ble for the al­leged dam­age, be­cause it oc­curred be­fore the firm took own­er­ship of the build­ing.

D B Pace has also tried to take ad­van­tage of a South Carolina pro­gram that would shield it from re­spon­si­bil­ity for pol­lu­tion caused by pre­vi­ous landown­ers. To qual­ify, D B Pace told the state that it had no ties to any prior owner of the ware­house, in­clud­ing Ti­tan At­las Man­u­fac­tur­ing. But state reg­u­la­tors re­cently asked about the Trump fam­ily’s ties to both TAM and D B Pace, ac­cord­ing to the New York Times.

The hospi­tal deal

Don Jr., Black­burn, Dur­bano and oth­ers had in­vested in yet an­other com­pany in North Charleston that was run­ning into trou­ble. In early 2014, the com­pany, Chicora Gar­dens, paid $5 mil­lion for an aban­doned Navy hospi­tal that the city owned in a de­pressed part of town, ac­cord­ing to court and cor­po­rate records.

Don Jr. owned just 10 per­cent of Chicora, but mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials were hope­ful that his in­volve­ment might lead to a larger in­vest­ment by the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion, Dur­bano told The Post.

The plan was to ren­o­vate the 400,000-square-foot build­ing and lease it to the Charleston County gov­ern­ment for a so­cial ser­vices hub. Chicora bor­rowed $15 mil­lion from an in­vest­ment fund in Bos­ton to do the work.

But when it was time for the county to move into the space, the build­ing was not ready. The county backed out of its lease in March 2016, fol­lowed by other ten­ants.

Dawes Cooke, the county’s at­tor­ney, told The Post that Chicora “may have bit­ten off more than they could chew on this project.”

Two months af­ter the lease can­cel­la­tion, Chicora filed for bank­ruptcy un­der Chap­ter 11, which al­lows a com­pany to re­or­ga­nize its debts and stay in busi­ness. The case is still play­ing out in a fed­eral court in South Carolina, with Chicora, its lender and county of­fi­cials all point­ing fin­gers.

Chicora listed its main as­set as the old Navy hospi­tal, which was ap­praised at $38 mil­lion if the leases are en­forced. Its li­a­bil­i­ties were listed at $22 mil­lion.

Dur­bano de­fended Chicora’s project as an earnest ef­fort to im­prove a run-down build­ing.

Draw­ing on di­rect ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with Don Jr. and Black­burn, Dur­bano said they are “very pleas­ant, forth­right, hon­est.” He said he can­not ex­plain the re­peated fail­ures.

“The an­swer is, I don’t think any­one knows. Maybe it was the econ­omy. Maybe it was the lit­i­ga­tion,” Dur­bano said. “Some­times you just run out of cash.”

“I’m sure he wishes he didn’t do it. He viewed it as a start-up with ev­ery in­ten­tion of suc­ceed­ing. It just failed.” Alan Garten, Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion gen­eral coun­sel, re­fer­ring to Don­ald Trump Jr.

JABIN BOTSFORD/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Don­ald Trump Jr. lis­tens as his fa­ther speaks at the Lin­coln Memo­rial dur­ing a Make Amer­ica Great Again con­cert Jan. 19.

FELIPE ARIZA/OF­FICE OF THE PRES­I­DENT OF COLOM­BIA

BRAD NET­TLES/CHARLESTON, S.C., POST AND COURIER

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP: Don­ald Trump Jr., left, and Jeremy Black­burn, sec­ond from left, met with Colom­bian Pres­i­dent Juan Manuel San­tos, right, in 2011. This ware­house in North Charleston, S.C., was a base of op­er­a­tions for their com­pany, Ti­tan At­las Man­u­fac­tur­ing. An­other com­pany partly owned by the two men filed for Chap­ter 11 af­ter its plans for this for­mer Navy hospi­tal failed.

GRACE BEAHM/CHARLESTON, S.C., POST AND COURIER

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