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      Businessmen respond to dropped charges

      We TMre getting reaction from the three men who, on Wednesday, had the charges against them dismissed. The charges were dismissed against businessmen Ryan Bruns, Brian Swift and Chad LaVallie in the Hawks Ridge Condominium scandal.

      Police originally said the three businessmen, along with two others, used false pretenses to obtain money for an investment. The two others are Michael Gokey and Joel Westrom.

      Bruns, Swift and LaVallie say they TMre relieved charges against them have been dropped. And it's clear they're not happy with Gokey and Westrom, their partners at Tristar Development.

      "What's most upsetting to us is the fact that while this project was collapsing, Mr. Gokey and Mr. Westrom and others have been taking, funneling money out of this project while they knew we were suffering," said LaVallie.

      Gokey's attorney declined to comment for this story. Calls to Westrom's attorney were not returned.

      Bruns, Swift and LaVallie told us it was Gokey and Westrom behind the alleged crime. Prosecutors accuse Gokey and Westrom of fraud and using false pretenses to obtain money to build condos at Hawks Ridge in Marquette. But the condos were never built.

      The three tell us they were never involved in day-to-day activities with the project. They were just business partners who thought they were making a good investment.

      But after no signs of construction on the condos and money bleeding from their pockets, they got suspicious, and the three say they met with Gokey.

      "(Gokey) met with the three of us, said Swift, he spilled his guts, basically told us this project was a sham. He told us he was going to make it right and we trusted him again."

      But soon after, the three say they went to police.

      Although the charges against the three have been dropped, they say their reputations have been damaged.

      "Going through this process, being here locally, it's been a hard road for me," said Bruns.

      The three expect more charges to be filed on their behalf against Gokey and Westrom. Between them, they say they lost a half a million dollars.

      Gokey and Westrom are expected to be back in court on December 1.