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Police: Arkansas developer bilked bank of $500K

NORCROSS -- A financially troubled Arkansas developer faces charges in Gwinnett for bilking a bank of $500,000 borrowed to buy a celebrity tour bus, records show.

Already in federal custody on fraud charges, Little Rock shopping center builder Steve Clary, 47, is charged in Gwinnett with felony theft by taking, according to a warrant signed Friday.

Gwinnett police allege that Clary never attempted to repay the $500,000 loan approved by Alpharetta-based Touchmark National Bank in 2008. The bank was headquartered in a temporary Norcross location at the time, a representative said Wednesday.

Clary claimed the money was meant to purchase a tour bus he planned to rent out to celebrities. An attorney representing the bank told police Clary instead used the loan for personal expenses and never accepted the bus from a manufacturer.

Federal authorities claim to have tied Clary to a similar ruse in his home state.

Clary was indicted in early July on counts of wire fraud and mail fraud for allegedly misappropriating $1.6 million in loans from Bank of America in 2008, ArkansasBusiness.com reported.

According to the indictment, Clary created a company called Destination Ventures to produce, customize and lease buses. He later redirected $1.6 million in loan proceeds to companies with no connection to the bus venture, the bill says.

Clary, best known for developing a shopping center in west Little Rock, has defaulted on more than $17 million in personal and commercial loans since July 2008, the website reported. It's unclear what led him to Gwinnett to seek financing.

An attorney representing Touchmark National Bank in the local case did not return a call for comment late Wednesday.