Gwinnett’s powerful Mason family at war with creditors

Did the Great Recession send Gwinnett County’s master of the deal to the poorhouse?

Or is former county chairman Wayne Mason still a wealthy man who used some financial trickery to keep his creditors at bay?

A pair of lawsuits winding their ways through the courts could provide answers.

One debt collector has latched onto a series of real estate transactions between Mason-connected entities that involve a Suwanee mansion and a Sea Island condo. The Suwanee mansion, which has never been occupied, includes a hand-cut cobblestone entry, movie theater and five kitchens and it’s currently listed for sale for about $11 million.

Another firm alleges Mason fraudulently transferred $137 million in cash and assets to relatives and other businesses to hide them from his creditors. That company has sued Mason’s wife, daughter and firms connected to the family in a bid to determine if there is money to pay Mason’s debts.

Mason’s lawyer, former Gov. Roy Barnes, says his client has been financially wiped out. Barnes denies Mason or family members have done anything wrong. Many of the property transfers are old and can be explained by Mason’s regular business dealings or simple estate planning, he said.

Read more about the legal cases vexing one of Gwinnett’s most powerful figures in Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution or online at myAJC.com.

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