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In a convoluted set of circumstances, a Jan. 19, 2019 UCC filing by the State of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities for $500,000 in loans taken out by former Liar’s Lodge operator Mike Sorrels from the Complete Business Solutions Group (CBSG), names Liars Lodge as a debtor. Carl and Connie Bauer the former operators of the bed and breakfast business and current owners of the structure that was known as Liar’s Lodge in Buena Vista appear caught up in the situation. The filing is actually one of a number of claims that appear to be connected to Sorrels, who dissolved his Liar’s Lodge operating LLC on Jan. 8, 2019, and disappeared from the Buena Vista area.

At the moment, the Bauers have not made themselves available to be interviewed about a situation that is clearly a distressing development. Information gathered from an Instant Checkmate background check on Sorrels was used to flesh out some aspects of what appears to have been a complicated con by a man with felony convictions. He contracted to operate the B&B business and borrowed money against both lodge fixtures and future receipts of the lodge he did not own.

CBSG is described in the filing as engaged in the business of providing working capital to merchants through the purchase of an interest in a designated portion of the merchant’s future accounts and receivables.” CBSG is under investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, Bureau of Securities Compliance.

In addition to the Pennsylvania UCC filings, Ark Valley Voice has uncovered three separate liens recorded in the state of Colorado for Sorrels, all naming Liars Lodge B&B, Liars Lodge Bed & Breakfast LLC, and Liars Lodge Buena Vista B&B as the debtor.

“UCC filings typically help secure things like equipment, inventory and fixtures,” said High Country Bank Vice President of Commercial Loans Joe Smith. “The location filed against an address is done mostly as a primary business address and not necessarily taking a lien against the property. However, fixtures are tied to a specific address. A title lien search can be done by a local title company to see what is all outstanding against the property. If this new person is operating with the same equipment, fixtures, etc. that had a UCC against them, they technically are at risk from not having them free and clear as liens follow the property/asset regardless of name or ownership.”

Con men are often good at what they do, most of all gaining people’s trust.

The situation began when the Bauers, seeking to retire from their 20-plus years of active operation of the Liar’s Lodge, located at 30000 CR 371, Buena Vista, went looking for an operator for the lodge. What sort of background checks the Bauers did on Sorrels is not known, but it appears those checks did not turn up any concerns at the time. They contracted with Sorrels to operate the bed and breakfast. Sorrels created a Colorado LLC corporation in the same name as the historic lodge and became active in Buena Vista civic activities, including the BV Chamber of Commerce.

While there now appears to have been more to Sorrels actions in this county than first appeared, revelations of Sorrels’ actions have taken months to come out. Allegations had swirled for several weeks in December and January, related to Sorrels prior actions and a felony conviction in the state of Indiana, that he explained as “foolish actions due to an addiction.”

At the time the allegations originally surfaced, Ark Valley Voice confirmed not once, but twice with both the Chaffee County Sheriff and the Buena Vista Police Department and found that there were no local charges against Sorrels.

The Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors on which Sorrels had served prior to his resignation, said it conducted a background search, hiring an attorney and an auditor, and found nothing. They then conducted a three-year audit on their finances which came up clean.

Other local media also looked into local allegations against Sorrels and found nothing, calling the allegations “unsubstantiated.” Ark Valley Voice has learned of convictions in both Indiana and Florida for incidents ranging from dumping humane society animals to fraudulent use of an organization’s credit card and embezzlement to falsifying documents. Among other allegations, that Sorrels while acting as treasurer of the Montgomery County, Indiana Democratic Party, took funds that were collected for a fundraising event and was asked to resign from his position.

The new UCC claims related to business loans taken out in Colorado are spread out in a time frame beginning in May 2016, through July 2018, and another appears dated Feb. 28, 2019.

A look at Sorrels’ Colorado records revealed that he had a valid Colorado drivers license and registered to vote in the state’s online registration area.

“He registered online and that registration matched up to his driver’s license…it has to be exact, otherwise he would have been marked ‘ID required,’” said Chaffee County Clerk and Recorder Lori Mitchell. “To use the online process you have to provide either a Colorado ID or drivers license, or the last four of your social security number.”

Mitchell confirmed voting records show Sorrels voted in the 2018 general election. Asked about the fact that on his voter registration Sorrels had spelled his first name ‘Micheal’ rather than ‘Michael’, transposing the ‘a’ and ‘e’ in his first name, Mitchell said “We’re an affirmation state. The way it works now [is] it’s a unique identifier thing. If the voter registration matches the license exactly it feeds right over to [county clerks]. So that must be how his driver’s license was spelled.”

She confirmed that individuals convicted of a felony are ineligible to vote while in prison and on parole. Voting rights are automatically restored upon completion of parole, and people on probation can vote. Ex-offenders can also re-register to vote.  

The Bauers recently changed the name of their LLC which had operated as Liar’s Lodge B&B structure at 30000 CR 371 for more than two decades to “Rather Be Retired LLC.” The name of the lodge has been changed to Buena Vista Riverside Lodge. The move might have been done to lessen the impact of the UCC filings, or to distance themselves from Sorrels’ impact on the brand name they spent decades building.

What might be of importance at this moment is learning whether any other county residents were conned by Sorrels. Those with information to share are asked to contact Ark Valley Voice Justice Specialist Stephen Hall at Stephen@arkvalleyvoice.com.

Multiple Ark Valley Voice staff contributed to the information in this story including: Jan Wondra, Stephen Hall and Henry DeKam.