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Investors, charities claim Seattle's 'CityGuru' scammed them

Drew Morrison
Drew Morrison
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SEATTLE -- They seemed like great ideas. Can't miss.

Sold out parties, exclusive access and big donations to non-profits for nights of hobnobbing fun thanks to CityGuru and its founder, Drew Morrison.

"Beautiful people, everyone dressed to the nines. It was very respectful," said model Bernard Butler.

The reality of those great ideas ended with charities getting shorted, vendors going without pay and a company under fire and its owner in court.

CityGuru offered subscriptions granting access to special events, restaurants, and more. Many times, CityGuru proudly said they were parties with a cause, with donations going to charities like Susan G. Komen or Mary's Place.

Yet a company insider and multiple non-profits say morrison produced broken promises and empty bank accounts.

"It was just like delay after delay after delay after delay," said Pink Gene Foundation founder Tera Martin.

Morrison's "Blood, Booze and Boobs" event was a viewing party of the Mayweather/Paquiao fight in May with "all proceeds" going to Pink Gene. The foundation helps young women dealing with breast cancer. Martin started Pink Gene during her own struggles with stage three cancer.

"It's finally to the stages where I'm rebuilding, getting back to normal life and not having to go to a doctor's appointment every day," she said.

Lots of high-priced tickets were sold in late April leading up to the fight, yet Martin and Pink Gene have gotten nothing from Morrison five months later. She and donors feel duped.

"It was a complete ripoff for them, to be honest," Martin said.

CityGuru failed to pay an employee and eventually cut off all contact. It was the same story for other vendors when CityGuru cancelled an event at the last minute last September.

Butler volunteered to walk the runway for one of the events that did happen.

"I've worked hard for who I am. I've gone through a lot. So when something like this happens and I hear about it, it's very disappointing," he said.

After hours on the phone getting evasive answers, Morrison provided a statement saying, in part, "these were honest mistakes," and that "we learned the hard way."

He also called CityGuru "one of the top event companies in Seattle," yet his website has been down for weeks.

Morrison also claimed, "I've gone five years without a salary to put this company first." Morrison would not provide any proof of that,

"When somebody won't account for where money went and how it was spent, you have a problem," said attorney Bruce Danielson.

He believes CityGuru's woes shouldn't be a surprise because of Morrison's past and previous company. Danielson helped file a lawsuit on behalf of Texan investor Gary Woolever.

"I paid a very high price in that school of hard knocks, all because I trusted a man called Drew Morrison," Woolever said.

In 2010, Woolever gave around $500,000 to Morrison to start a now-defunct foreclosure flipping business in Arizona.

"He's like an onion. Every layer you peel away, there's another layer. A little more stinky and rottener than the one before it," Woolever said.

The lawsuit finally got some answers of where the money went.

"Victoria's Secret, a tire shop, a coffee shop, a movie theater, Petco," Danielson said.

Danielson accused Morrison of using investor money on tanning salons, gun shops, car mechanics, fine dining, shopping at Burberry and Nordstrom, the Lovers adult store, and a Las Vegas nightclub.

Woolever claims Morrison is the only person who had access to the accounts. The numbers show big transfers from the business to Morrison's personal account for spending on exotic fish, sports betting and more adult stores.

"And he has failed to produce any documents to show that he actually spent any money on real estate," Danielson said.

The records show Morrison drained accounts quickly and over-drafted multiple times. Meanwhile, Morrison has gone quiet.

His landlord booted Morrison because of an estimated $6,000 in unpaid rent and expenses. Unopened court orders were still in the mail slot at the Belltown loft.

After months in court, a judge granted Woolever a default judgment in August for more than $970,000, but doesn't expect any business investors or charities to ever see any money.

"I had already lost my entire retirement account. I lost my house. I was forced to file bankruptcy," Woolever said.

Morrison has refused multiple offers to sit down and explain the allegations, but with CityGuru offline, no new social media posts, it's unclear if he will surface again.

Martin just wants more people to know what happened.

"It's pretty sickening to be honest," Martin said.

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