A local pastor and his wife appeared in court Thursday to answer charges that they assaulted a man who traveled from Michigan to confront them over their alleged failure to build him a log home after he had paid them more than $30,000.
Judge Bratten Cook, II sentenced Maureen Espino Park, 47, to six months on probation for assault, along with 30 days on probation on charges that she was carrying a firearm without a permit. An assault charge against her husband, Lawton Duane Park, also 47, was dismissed.
Smithville Police took the pair into custody on Aug. 27 after a confrontation with Danny Hall, who had traveled from Michigan to speak to them, turned into a fight at McDonald's in Smithville. Hall told the Review that he borrowed $36,000 in January to pay the couple, operating as Starry Hill Log Homes, as well as to build a foundation for the promised structure. Hall said after several months of delays and excuses he was told that his money had been spent on another project.
The incident at McDonald’s was capture on video, which the judge viewed before finding Maureen Park guilty. It was determined that Mr. Park was trying to break up the fight, and charges against him were dismissed.
“I just stood there and let her hit me,” Hall told the Review, “I didn’t try to hit her back.”
While the assault charge is no longer a problem for Mr. Parks, the District Attorney General's Office confirmed Thursday that the two are being investigated by the TBI. Authorities are looking into allegations that the Parks have accepted money to build homes from people in Tennessee, Texas and Kentucky who allegedly never received what they were promised.