The campus that was previously Lakemont Academy and Starkey Seminary before that has been purchased by Paul Jayne and Alvin Zimmerman who plan to divide the property into parcels for re-sale.
Lakemont — The controversial faith-based residential school for teens in Yates County that ran up millions of dollars in debt — has been sold for $1.05 million, records show.
Two Yates County businessmen — Paul Jayne and Alvin Zimmerman — closed on the sale last week.
"We are planning to divide it up and sell it in different parcels," Zimmerman said Wednesday. For now, he said, they will likely leave the houses and school structures, which include an equestrian area, intact.
There are already some interested purchasers, Zimmerman said.
Freedom Village, which also operated under the name Gates Community Chapel because it began as a small church in Gates, is no longer operable in New York. Its founder, the fiery pastor Fletcher Brothers, has moved to Florida, where he continues to solicit money through a radio show.
"All the properties that Freedom Village owned have been sold," the Freedom Village attorney, Gerald Dibble, said Tuesday. " ...There is no further activity."
Freedom Village USA was incorporated as a tax-exempt church and religious school in the late 1970s.
Freedom Village along the west shore of Seneca Lake in Yates County, NY is for sale after a bankruptcy request from Pastor Fletcher Brothers was denied by the court. This iPhoto by made by a drone is looking south along NY-14.
"The church itself is being dissolved," Dibble said. "There's no reason in keeping it."
The sale this month of the 150-plus-acre Yates County campus on the western shore of Seneca Lake still won't cover the entirety of a $1.8 million state Department of Labor judgment against Freedom Village for money owed to former workers. The sale may cover the initial amount owed, but not interest and penalties that have accumulated in recent years.
About $366,000 had been paid toward the judgment earlier.
Pastor Fletcher Brothers responds to questions about Freedom Village USA in Lakemont and allegations made about Brothers during a meeting with reporter Gary Craig at the Democrat and Chronicle on March 2, 2012.
Brothers also still owed about $850,000 to the family of the late Emerson Frey, a Pennsylvania man who once loaned the school about $2 million. The sale of the property will cover the debt, with the remaining going toward the state judgment.
Brothers had made some payments to the Frey estate before the sale of Freedom Village. Local lawyer Vivek Thiagarajan said Frey's family intends to donate the proceeds to charities.
"We weren't paid in full, but we got most of what we were looking for," said Thiagarajan, who represented the Frey estate. "As far as our perspective goes, we're done with it."
The New York Attorney General's Office confirmed that Freedom Village no longer exists in the state.
"The (Gates Community) church has disbanded and there are no directors, trustees or officers other than Fletcher A. Brothers, who has agreed to the sale," according to the records filed this week with the New York Attorney General's Office charities bureau.
A move to South Carolina stalled
Earlier this year, Brothers intended to uproot Freedom Village and merge with a faith-based operation that planned to set up a campus for teenagers in upstate South Carolina.
However, former Freedom Village students came together and told local officials in South Carolina of alleged psychological abuse at the campus, as well as questionable disciplinary practices, and the project was abandoned.
The proposed move was triggered by a Rochester-based bankruptcy judge's refusal to grant Freedom Village bankruptcy protection from creditors. That ruling allowed those owed nearly $3 million by Brothers to seek their money through civil litigation.
Brothers afterward announced he was shutting down Freedom Village, and the sale of the lakeside property became one sure way to pay off debts.
Freedom Village was first established in the late 1970s, using a Christian evangelical approach to try to help teenagers battling addiction, family strife or other troubles.
But, even as the number of students swelled, the operation was often in dire financial straits, and twice successfully sought bankruptcy protection; once owing more than $20 million to creditors and individuals who loaned Brothers money for Freedom Village.
Despite its financial woes, Brothers in the school's early years lived an extravagant lifestyle, with boats, security guards — he claimed anti-Christian forces were targeting him — and travels to exotic locations.
Contrasting tales of village life
Brothers' attorney Dibble said Tuesday that many young people did benefit from Freedom Village, and that Brothers rarely had anyone with legal or business acumen on his staff and that led to many of the financial troubles.
Many teenagers "came out better than they went in," he said.
A number of former students have banded together across the country and take a different view of Freedom Village. They say the educational offerings were subpar, the medical care often nonexistent or lacking, and that they left more scarred than when they first went to the school.
Some have approached regulatory authorities in New York and elsewhere, asking that they investigate Brothers' continued fundraising.
Brothers' radio show, called Victory Today, continues with weekday installments that end with him soliciting funds for Hannah Grace Homes, a Florida-based nonprofit that collaborates with him, and for other missionary operations in the Ukraine and Canada.
Donations can be sent to a Florida post office box, including those for another entity — the Brothers Missionary fund.