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KIRKWOOD — A builder based near the Lake of the Ozarks swindled six families that sought new homes in Kirkwood out of $356,000, the builder’s federal plea agreement says.

Morgan Bullock, 33, pleaded guilty in federal court in St. Louis Friday to one count of wire fraud, and could face roughly two years in prison under recommended federal guidelines when sentenced later this year.

His lawyer did not return a message seeking comment Monday.

Bullock was the owner and operator of Bullock Building and Development LLC, and had organized a real estate investment group, Silver8 LLC, in 2015 to develop homes in Kirkwood, his plea agreement says.

Silver8 bought a property on Emmerson Avenue in Kirkwood, and Bullock planned to build eight homes there, his plea says. He had a real estate agent begin marketing the property and applied to the city for permits in 2016.

Faced with a requirement to submit $533,876 in cash or a letter of credit to get his final subdivision plan, Bullock balked and pulled his proposal in 2017. But he didn’t tell the six families who paid $356,024 in deposit fees, the plea says.

Bullock used those fees for his personal expenses, and wrote a $50,000 deposit refund check to one client in 2018 that bounced, his plea says.

Silver8 filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and Bullock Building and Development filed for bankruptcy in January. Bullock and his companies have been sued repeatedly in recent years, by both subcontractors and homeowners. Two of those homeowners settled their suit, one set won a default judgment of $280,000, including $210,000 in punitive damages for “malicious and outrageous conduct” and one is pending, court records show.

Bullock also faces two criminal cases in Camden County and one in Miller County accusing him of writing bad checks totaling tens of thousands of dollars.

Robert Patrick is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.