ORLANDO, Florida. – Some investors who have lost millions of dollars in defunct events led by the chief Orlando Music Festival pretend he cheated on them using a model of romantic relationships.
James Walker Watson, Jr., was arrested by FBI agents in May after investigators claimed he defrauded investors at the Southfork Music Festival near Dallas out of $3 million.
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As a result, Watson’s Orlando Music Festival, scheduled for the fourth weekend in July, has been canceled.
“He took everything we had,” said Marjorie Howell, who lives in Cape Canaveral.
Howell said she and her sister Joan Laskoskie still haven’t recovered from the failed investment they made in Watson’s Texas Music Festival in Houston in 2007.
“Financially it’s tough,” Laskoskie told News 6.
Howell said she met Watson through a friend and the two started dating.
“I (dated him) for about six months until he locked us up completely,” she said. “Then I realized what was happening and I felt uneasy. I realized we were too far away.
Federal court documents from 2007 show Howell took out a loan using a farm that had been in his family for generations as collateral.
She and her sister gave the money to Watson.
Watson was later convicted of wire fraud for the event and he spent five years in prison.
Howell and Laskoskie said the family lost the farm and their retirement money — a total of more than $700,000.
“It totally destroyed the family,” Laskoskie said. “There are family members who don’t even speak anymore. It was tough.
Nancy Lukas claimed he lost his investment more recently in Watson’s Southfork Music Festival in 2020.
“I ended up dating him for a while, which makes me shiver at the thought of it,” she told News 6.
She spoke to News 6 from California, where she said she met Watson at another music event.
She said he took her to Los Angeles, where he put her up in expensive hotels.
“He ended up scamming me for almost $300,000 which was my entire inheritance from my dad who worked his whole life to earn this,” she said.
She said the FBI didn’t contact her.
Howell and Laskoskie said they were struggling to make ends meet and did not hope to see their investment money again, even though they had promissory notes with Watson’s signature.
“When he meets his maker, he won’t have a lawyer to speak for him,” Laskoskie said. “He’s going to have to stand up and take what’s coming to him.”
The women said they fear there won’t be more victims like them since Watson launched Orlando’s first music festival.
Watson’s attorney did not respond to News 6’s request for comment.
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