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Arizona boat dealer navigating business problems

Dogged by a continuing legal challenge, a Lake Havasu City, Ariz., boat dealer spent this week sorting out payments for a pair of customers.

Offshore Custom Marine owner Tim McDonald owed Joe Belt, of California, $59,000 for a boat he had sold on consignment. Earlier efforts to obtain payment had fallen through.

Last Friday, Belt went to speak with a Havasu police detective who has been investigating McDonald since earlier this year. Belt and McDonald agreed to meet on Monday to resolve the money issues, with police supervision.

“We aren’t involved in the deal. We are just there to keep the peace,” Sgt. Kirk Cesena told the Today’s News Herald newspaper.

Although it took a trip to a bank in Kingman, Ariz., Belt said Monday that he was leaving with his money in hand and happy to put the dispute behind him. He was also delivering a $40,000 cashier’s check to another OCM customer, Kurt Curtis, on his way home.

Curtis said he was pleased with the way his deal was handled.

“It was a lot of time spent, but it was worth it to finally get the payment,” Belt said. He said he won’t do business with McDonald again.

McDonald also faces a pending lawsuit that dates from an investment deal with Gregory Morse when McDonald lived in Oregon. McDonald owes Morse more than $65,000 and has been ordered to a court hearing next month to probe his finances, the newspaper reported.

Compounding McDonald’s problems, the online boating forum River Dave’s Place exploded during the weekend after the website’s manager, Dave Johnson, called McDonald out for backing out of an agreement and apologized to forum members for defending McDonald until last week.

Johnson said he had a change of heart about McDonald after trying to help Belt and McDonald work out a payment arrangement. After the two had agreed to final terms, Johnson said, McDonald spent all day Friday stalling with excuses about wire transfers not going through.

By Monday evening, a handful of forum threads — which largely panned McDonald and his business, sometimes in graphic detail — had generated more than 1,000 posts since Thursday.

“At this point, if he has to meet someone at a bank in front of the cops to get paid … I would say he’s probably not a guy that should be selling boats in Lake Havasu,” Johnson posted to the forum on Saturday.

McDonald told the newspaper in a phone interview on Monday that he and his lawyers are planning multiple libel lawsuits based on what had been posted on the forum.

McDonald has said he agrees that he owes Morse about $65,000, stemming from an investment deal that dated from his days running a boat business in Oregon. The deal was not a boat sale and was tied into another lawsuit that McDonald had filed against a boat manufacturer, he said.

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