A Gun And a Dream - 8 News NOW

Colleen McCarty, Investigative Reporter

A Gun And a Dream

Posted: Updated:
Dr. Ignatius Piazza, Front Sight President Dr. Ignatius Piazza, Front Sight President

Its founder billed it as a Disneyland for gun enthusiasts, a 550-acre master planned community with a shooting range as the draw. The concept was unveiled in the late 1990s, complete with artist renderings and a miniature model. Today, the model remains on site but so far it’s the only house there.

"The safest community in America," that was the pitch to people seeking a home at the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute. For upwards of $200,000 members were promised a one-acre luxury home site in an exclusive resort. Instead they got a thank you letter, a baseball hat and a map of a lot they don't own.

The Front Sight Firearms Training Institute bills itself as the world’s premier resort for self defense training. Offering “skill at arms” to students of all levels.

Student Erik Johnson says, "It’s kind of like swimming. It’s fun to do but along the way you're learning a skill that might save your life someday."

Johnson finds happiness, down range. A veteran of 70 classes he hopes to one day make his hobby his home. In 2001, he purchased a platinum membership entitling him to a one acre lot in the future Front Sight master planned community.

Front Sight President Ignatius Piazza says, "At some point there will be a thousand homes out here, commercial center, community center, and it will be a resort that instead of having a golf course as the anchor will have world class adventure training."

Front Sight’s founder, former chiropractor Dr. Ignatius Piazza has been touting his vision for “the safest community in America” for six years. Boasting a completion date that seems to change with each interview. Initially scheduled to open in winter of 2001, Piazza now says the project is on hold, indefinitely.

Piazza says, "The timeline now really has to do with how soon we match up with the right joint venture developer. We've been in negotiations with a number of them; we've turned down a few. We would like to find the right fit."

Johnson says he'll wait and spend his weekends on the firing line. But not all platinum members have holstered their frustrations. Bill Haag has hired an attorney to protect his investment.

Attorney Keith Greer says, "All the platinum member knows is they cut a big check and they got one sentence on the bottom of their membership that you got this parcel."

For $175,000, Haag got a thank you letter complete with a parcel number and a map showing its location. Believing construction was imminent; Greer says his client relocated to southern Nevada in preparation for the move.

Greer says, "The big issue is what does he have now?  He has the same piece of desert land that he first looked at before he cut that check. There’s been no water, no roads, no grading, no electricity."

A piece of undeveloped desert that at this point Haag doesn't own. Piazza acknowledges no deeds were issued, not to Haag or to any of the platinum members. Front Sight owns the land, all 550 acres of it.

Piazza says, "The people have not purchased a lot out here, what they've purchased is a membership and at some point in the future when the development is completed they'll have access to a one acre home site and we'll deed it out to them."

In the meantime, Front Sight has mortgaged the land promised to the platinum members. A $6 million dollar interest only loan taken out on the residential portion of the property.

Greer says, "We're waiting to see is it going into infrastructure, is he going to make good on his promise to the platinum members and just get a road out to their property and some water so they can build."

Instead of putting the $6 million into the housing development, Piazza tells the Eyewitness News I-team he used the money to fund a promotional video and several reality TV shows currently in production. Programs to promote Front Sight and to attract another long line of pilgrims to the desert.

Late this afternoon, attorney Keith Greer filed a class action lawsuit against Front Sight and Ignatius Piazza. It alleges Piazza used the Front Sight organization to de-fraud members out of money for his own personal gain. We'll hear from one of those members Tuesday at 5 p.m. 

Click here to learn more about the lawsuit.

Contact Investigative Reporter Colleen McCarty

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