Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Indicted Colorado developer found dead after apparent suicide in Hernando County

Authorities accused Zach Davidson of stealing $3.1 million in bond money.

Authorities accused Zach Davidson of stealing $3.1 million in bond money.

BROOKSVILLE — Developer Zach Davidson arrived in the affluent city of Greenwood Village, Colo., seven years ago with a grand plan.

Davidson envisioned a $255 million project of condominiums, townhouses, restaurants and shops in the city of about 14,000 just south of Denver. He threw lavish parties to create a buzz, and it worked. Two luxury condo towers in his Landmark development got built, the first one selling out in a day.

"He got out into the community to meet the people who could write the checks for those units," recalled Mayor Ron Rakowsky, who was a City Council member at the time.

But the sputtering economy bankrupted the project. Then, last month, an Arapahoe County grand jury indicted Davidson, alleging he stole $3.1 million from public bonds issued for the Landmark development.

Last Tuesday, authorities say, Davidson drove his 2003 Mercedes sedan into the Withlacoochee State Forest in Hernando County and hanged himself. Two teenagers trail-riding in a pickup discovered the 45-year-old's body hanging by a rope from a tree near Forest Road 9, about a mile from Croom Road, east of Brooksville.

Authorities have not found a link between Davidson and Hernando County, but they did find a note in the Mercedes.

"It cited several areas of concern in his life which led to his decision to commit suicide," said Hernando sheriff's Sgt. Phil Lakin.

Davidson had not been in Colorado for about year, but investigators had tracked him to Bluffton, S.C., said Lisa Pinto, spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office in Colorado's 18th Judicial Circuit.

"There was some indication he knew there was a warrant out for his arrest," Pinto said. "Certainly his behavior suggested he was trying to avoid capture."

Davidson's apparent suicide abruptly ends a criminal case that took investigators two years to build.

In 2007, Davidson got permission from the city to form a special district for the Landmark project, which included the condo towers and a planned "European village" featuring brownstone townhouses and manor homes. The district approved $31 million in bonds to pay for roads, sewers, landscaping and other infrastructure. The money would be repaid with property taxes levied within the district.

Over the next two years, Davidson embezzled some $3.1 million of that money, directing funds to his other companies and projects, according to the 20-count indictment.

The European village site is vacant land that will be sold and developed, Rakowsky said. The condos, which start at about $500,000 and top out about $2 million, are nearly full.

The District Attorney's Office will cooperate with any civil suit filed against Davidson's estate, Pinto said.

According to a 2007 story in the Denver Post, Davidson started his real estate career at NationsBank in North Carolina, spent a decade on Wall Street, and developed luxury condos in San Francisco during the dot-com boom. At the time of the profile, he was married with three children. He has since divorced, Pinto said.

Davidson boasted about the money he spent on parties promoting the Landmark project in Colorado.

"People say, 'Are you out of your mind?' That's what everyone has been telling me," he told the Post. "I said, 'It's okay if I lose some money, it's my money. I made it, God will take care of it.' "

Reach Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1431. On Twitter: @TMarreroTimes and @HernandoTimes.

Indicted Colorado developer found dead after apparent suicide in Hernando County 01/14/13 [Last modified: Monday, January 14, 2013 10:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Claim: State pressured CFO, used secret recordings to shut down Universal Health Care

    Banking

    ST. PETERSBURG — The founder of St. Petersburg's Universal Health Care alleges that Florida regulators conspired with the company's chief financial officer to drive the once high-flying Medicare insurer out of business.

    Federal agents raided the headquarters of Universal Health Care in 2013, ordering employees to leave the building. The insolvent St. Petersburg Medicare insurer was then in the process of being liquidated by state regulators.
[DIRK SHADD   |   Times file photo]

  2. 'Today is not a dream;' St. Petersburg ready to start building new pier

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG —Three years ago, with the now demolished inverted pyramid still standing stubbornly in the background, Mayor Rick Kriseman laid out a plan to replace or renovate the iconic structure.

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman addresses the crowd Wednesday morning at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new pier. Construction will start next week. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  3. Hillsborough and Pinellas officials can't even agree that they agreed to meet

    Local Government

    Tampa Bay political leaders often tout taking a regional approach to solve the region's most pressing issues. But the challenge has been getting Hillsborough and Pinellas County leaders together on the same page.

    Or in this case, in the same room.

    This month Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill (above) nixed a joint meeting of the Hillsborough and Pinellas County Commissions. But Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long said her Hillsborough counterpart, Stacy White, had already agreed to two meetings. [DANIEL WALLACE   |   Times]
  4. Ex-sheriff's official says sheriff intentionally hid federal inmate revenue from county

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The former third-in-command at the Hernando County Sheriff's Office has filed a complaint, alleging that Sheriff Al Nienhuis intentionally hid from the County Commission $1.3 million in revenue he collected from housing federal inmates last year.

    OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times  Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis said he was "extremely disappointed'' to hear of James Terry's allegations about the sheriff's handling of federal inmate dollars and noted that Terry was "offered the opportunity to resign from his position at the Sheriff's Office when numerous complaints as to his unprofessional conduct began flowing into the front office.''
  5. Fewer minions make things better in 'Despicable Me 3'

    Movies

    Despicable Me 3 doubles down on Steve Carell's silly way with words, a smart idea after too much Minions gibberish spoiled part 2. They're still here, in smaller doses and somewhat funnier for it.

     voiced by Trey Parker, in a scene from "Despicable Me 3."  (Illumination and Universal Pictures via AP)