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Neighbors worried about future of hotel in Escondido; new owner has criminal record

Posted at 5:14 PM, Oct 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-01 22:16:22-04

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) -- The County is investigating complaints from neighbors that a business owner with a criminal history for fraud may have converted a former hotel into a drug treatment center without proper permitting.

Residents living near the former site of the Tuscany Village Resort on Circle R Way in unincorporated Escondido say they started noticing people wandering trough their neighborhood this summer.

"The people that are staying there have told us they're getting treatment," said one neighbor, who asked not to be identified.

The property was acquired in March by NSI Services, LLC, according to public records. The company identifies itself as a "drug rehab" in its incorporating paperwork.

"Our concern is the safety and well-being of our community with a gentleman who seems to have disregard for the law," the resident said.

NSI Services is owned by Larry Burns, an entrepreneur with several aliases who served prison time for mail and wire fraud and has been charged with crimes in at least three states.

Burns, who also goes by Lawrence Burzynski, did not respond to phone calls by 10News seeking comment Monday or Tuesday.

Burns was once the president of the Escondido-based Crosby Centers and is listed as a director of the Crosby Clinic on its website. Neighbors say they've seen a Crosby Clinic van parked at the resort.

The clinic advertises drug rehab services along with treatments for traumatic brain injuries and CTE, and attracted media attention for treating former NFL players. In 2015, the NFL Players Association issued a warning to players about Burns, urging players using his services to "exercise extreme caution."

Burzynski "has accumulated numerous convictions for felony FRAUD related violations," the bulletin read. "He has been convicted in federal prosecutions in Wyoming, Colorado, California and elsewhere."

The old Tuscany Village Resort is not zoned for drug rehabilitation or medical services. After complaints by neighbors, code compliance inspectors began investigating the property on August 7, according to a letter from County Planning and Development Services Director Mark Wardlaw.

The owner "indicated they had not yet finalized their plans for the property" but "noted that he may use the property as a resort that may also provide brain injury and other medical treatments," the letter stated. The owner, who was not identified in the letter, said he did not intend to offer drug or alcohol treatments at the facility.

"We will continue to keep our code compliance case open until we have received all the information required to classify the use," Wardlaw wrote.

Staff gave the owner a $100 citation on September 12 for improperly storing items in the parking lot. When a 10News reporter visited the property Monday, there was still furniture and other items in the parking lot.

The owner has until October 9 to clean up the property, said County spokeswoman Tammy Glenn.

"We will continue to update residents in the area and work with the property owner to ensure compliance with County codes," she said.

Late Tuesday, a man who identified himself as one of Burns' employees contacted 10News, saying the hotel was undergoing renovations and would open next year as a Bavarian-style spa. The man named Jeff said other than himself, no other Crosby Clinic employees were working at the property and the resort would not be used for drug treatment.

"They think because they see a Crosby van it's going to be drug and alcohol [treatment], but that's not the case," he said.

"It's going to be a whole different place" with water falls and a new pool, he added.