A San Luis Obispo County jury awarded former UFC champ Chuck Liddell nearly $2 million against an escrow company he says helped developer Kelly Gearhart defraud him, according to an article in The Fresno Bee.

Liddell, a Cal Poly business graduate who lived in San Luis Obispo for 20 years before moving to Southern California, had invested $2 million with Gearhart to purchase four lots at his Vista del Hombre development project. But he said Cuesta Title Company, which handled all of Gearhart’s escrows for the project, released his funds before the close of escrow and without transferring title to the properties. Meanwhile, Gearhart was using investor money to pay other investors and himself.

The article explained that during the trial, Liddell’s attorney, Warren Paboojian of Fresno, said Cuesta Title escrow officer Melanie Schneider had a conflict of interest because she was close friends with Gearhart and his wife — and had invested $50,000 of her own money in the Vista del Hombre project.

[Photo courtesy www.chuckliddell.com]