Monroe developer pleads guilty to federal charge

The developer of a failed multimillion-dollar Monroe County mountaintop residential community pleaded guilty to a federal charge in Charleston last week, admitting he submitted a false draw request on a construction loan more than a decade ago.

Daniel Beg, 60, faces a maximum 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million when he is sentenced Nov. 8 by Senior U.S. District Judge David Faber.

Berg, who now lives in San Diego, was a Las Vegas developer in 2004 when he bought an entire mountaintop near the quiet, rural community of Union.

A real estate agent spoke of Berg cruising around the countryside on his Harley, his pet mastiff in the sidecar, wearing goggles, according to previous Gazette reports.

Berg’s Walnut Springs Mountain Reserve was sold to about 50 wealthy West Virginians and out-of-staters at $45,000 an acre. The 1,350-acre luxurious mountaintop property was marketed in 2005, according to its website, as having a bass fishing pond, a beach, two crystal-clear lakes with a waterfall in between, a 10,000-square-foot lodge with a restaurant, a bed and breakfast, a cocktail lounge, sports facilities and more.

None of that actually existed on the property, but members of the Walnut Springs company said it would be built.

In April 2005, Berg assisted an individual in submitting a construction loan application to United Bank in Fayetteville for the purpose of building a home on the Walnut Springs Mountain Reserve, according to federal court documents. The bank approved the loan the following month.

Berg filed to be reimbursed for more than $68,000 in construction expenses, he admitted, and United Bank deposited the funds into his company’s construction control checking account. Berg wrote a check in 2005 for about $38,000 of that money to “Known Person One,” federal court documents state. Those funds were used for personal expenses, unrelated to the construction of the home on Walnut Ridge.

A legal battle erupted in 2005 between Berg and his half-brother’s stepbrother, Jonathan Halperin, of Washington, D.C. Both men were half owners of the Walnut Springs company.

In court filings, Halperin has accused Berg of misdeeds ranging from wrecking a $2 million deal to buy a second mountaintop in Greenbrier County, to buying underwear and foot powder on Halperin’s personal American Express card.

Berg, in return, accused Halperin of, among other things, plotting to shoot him, abusing drugs and defamation.

The criminal case was filed against Berg by federal prosecutors in 2014 in the form of an information. An information is similar to an indictment but usually can’t be filed without a defendant’s consent.

The information against Berg doesn’t mention Halperin. It states only that in the summer of 2004, Berg and another individual known to the United States, formed a real estate development company called Mountain America LLC, and purchased land near the town of Union to develop a residential community.

Mountain America operated primarily out of a Lewisburg office.

Since the filing of the charge in 2014, no other filings had been made in the case until last month when Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Ellis filed a motion asking a judge to schedule a guilty plea hearing.

Thursday marked Berg’s first appearance in court on the charge. He was allowed to remain free on $10,000 unsecured bond.

Reach Kate White at

kate.white@wvgazettemail.com,

304-348-1723 or follow

@KateLWhite on Twitter.

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