SC Businessmen Sue Billy Graham's Nephew Over Golf Course Deal

Two businessmen have filed a lawsuit against a nephew of evangelist Billy Graham, alleging he defrauded them as they were planning to purchase his golf course in South Carolina.

In a lawsuit filed in Horry County, S.C., businessmen Jeffrey Gohn and Rolf Hendricksen claim they lost $500,000 because Mel Graham, a Charlotte developer, breached a contract, acted in bad faith and committed fraud after they entered into discussions to buy the course, Charlotte Observer reported.

Mel Graham, 55, who sits on the boards of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, and owns the International World Tour Golf Links in Myrtle Beach, S.C., denies the allegation.

"I believe this is nothing more than a sour grapes claim from a couple of guys who could not live up to their commitments," Mel Graham was quoted as saying. "I have every confidence that we will prevail in court when the truth and all of the correct facts are revealed by my attorney."

Gohn and Hendricksen have contended in the lawsuit that Mel Graham told them the course's 2011 revenue was approximately the same as that for 2010, but they later found that the 2011 revenue was only 45 percent of the previous year's.

The businessmen say they agreed to pay $500,000 needed in improvements with an option to buy the course for $7 million. But to qualify for a loan, the course's profits needed to increase. They agreed to work at the course as marketing consultants to bring in more business and were promised commissions of 15 to 25 percent on all new revenue from their efforts.

The plaintiffs contend Mel Graham did not keep his promises, and said that the plan would progress if they agreed to a higher purchase price.

However, Mel Graham states, "They are the ones who failed miserably at marketing and bringing the business to the table that they promised. I believe these gentlemen just got in over their head. They became very confused and desperate when they were unable to perform on some marketing commitments they made …"

Mel Graham also maintains that the plaintiffs never expressed their concerns to him before filing their court complaint.