Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

With buyer facing charges, deal for Christmas House likely dead, owner says

BROOKSVILLE — With the arrest of his prospective buyer, Rogers' Christmas House Village owner George Weiland Rogers said Thursday he sees no way the deal will go forward.

But, then, Rogers said he has had his doubts about the buyer, Matthew Senge, all along. Senge just seemed too slick, too sly and "not exactly on the level," Rogers said.

"He had a lot of big ideas that seemed to me to be unrealistic," Rogers said. "I was hopeful, but not confident this was going to get done."

Brooksville police, executing a bench warrant from Baldwin County, Ala., arrested Senge, 38, also known as Matthew Hyde, on Wednesday morning outside the Christmas House.

Senge remained in jail Thursday on a no-bond status for violating probation on a domestic violence arrest last year in Hernando County.

At an appearance before Hernando County Judge Donald Scaglione on Thursday, Senge waived extradition to Alabama to face charges of failing to appear in court on a 2005 felony theft by deception charge. If convicted, Senge could face prison.

Karen Hyde, the woman Senge has introduced around Brooksville as his wife, said Thursday as far as she knew, he still intends to buy the Christmas House

"It won't be (today), that's for certain now," she said of the scheduled day for closing on the purchase. "But Matthew said he's still interested in purchasing it."

That might be a tough proposition as Rogers said he no longer trusts Senge. He was also unhappy to learn this week that contractor Treelawn Builders filed a $3,902.82 lien against Senge for work at the property that he has yet to pay for. Rogers said the work was done without his consent.

Senge's pending deal with Rogers includes only the buildings and the land on S Saxon Avenue. George Rodriguez, who owns the Christmas House business, said Senge also agreed to buy 49 percent of the operation. The status of that deal remains uncertain.

Senge's deal to buy the Christmas House began to emerge late last year when he began introducing himself around town as Matthew Hyde, a former law enforcement officer.

In a Jan. 7 interview with the Times, Senge and Hyde outlined their plans for the landmark business, including adding a tearoom and a New York-style deli. Longer-range plans included building a fine dining restaurant and converting the nearby Scarborough House into an inn.

Two weeks later, however, his story began unraveling when the Times revealed that Senge has an extensive criminal history that includes convictions in Florida and elsewhere for fraud, theft and battery

Rodriguez, who took over the Christmas House in 2008 after former owner Donna Jones filed for bankruptcy, said Senge had told him of his criminal past, but said he was confident he would be a good business partner.

Brooksville Business Alliance president Sally Petrie said Thursday that news of Senge's arrest brought a sense of relief to members of the business community, many of whom grew increasingly suspicious of him in recent weeks. Despite the letdown, she said the organization still supports the Christmas House endeavor.

"A lot of people feel sorry for George (Rodriguez)," Petrie said. "But it's better this way. We couldn't support the Christmas House as long as Senge was involved it."

Longtime Brooksville businessman Pierre Des Jardins said he hopes the public doesn't dwell too long on the landmark's recent turmoil.

"I have to believe there's still hope for it," he said. "When the Christmas House succeeds it's good for the whole community."

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or 848-1435.

With buyer facing charges, deal for Christmas House likely dead, owner says 01/28/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 28, 2010 9:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Authorities say cocaine is making comeback in Florida

    Crime

    FORT LAUDERDALE — Drug enforcement officials say traffickers are bringing more cocaine into South Florida than at any time in the past decade.

    Traffickers are bringing more cocaine into South Florida than at any time in the past decade, officials say.  [Times files]
  2. Amid escalating Russia crisis, Trump considers major staff changes

    National

    President Donald Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russia crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a "war room" within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies.

    President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a retooling of his senior staff. [Doug Mills/The New York Times]
  3. Karen Lugo, 13, from Tampa, holds up her IPad Mini to take a picture of herself while relaxing in the sand alongside her mother, Karen Castro (on left), at the North Beach area of Fort DeSoto on Memorial Day (05/27/13). Karen comes to the beach with her family for holidays, she said. Also present was her older brother and three cousins.
  4. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  5. To many Americans, Memorial Day has lost its meaning

    Nation

    ANNVILLE, Pa. — Allison Jaslow heard it more than once as the long holiday weekend approached — a cheerful "Happy Memorial Day!" from oblivious well-wishers.

    Sgt. Heather Lynn Johnsen, of Roseville, Calif., guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Friday, March 22, 1996, in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. [Associated Press file]