“There was a sense of betrayal and frustration,” John Lewis tells PEOPLE. “Once I had sold him my interest in the company and his show began to flourish, I never heard from him again.”
The comments come nearly a week after Lewis and Richard Clark filed a $1 million lawsuit against Gaines, 42, and others in Waco, Texas, claiming that the TV star bought them out of the real estate company without telling them that he had made a deal with HGTV to air Fixer Upper, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
Gaines allegedly bought Lewis and Clark’s shares for $2,500 each on May 6, 2013, according to the documents. Two days later, Gaines publicly announced that Fixer Upper had been picked up by HGTV.
“I knew and understood at that point that he had gotten all he could out of our relationship and was done with it,” Lewis said of Gaines. “[It] was already at that point of realization that our relationship was essentially over that I discovered that he had defrauded me and Rick.”
A lawyer for Gaines, Jordan Mayfield, has disputed the claims, calling the allegations “meritless.” And in a recent tweet, Gaines questioned why his former partners hadn’t reached out to him sooner.
“Fyi: Ive had the same cell # 15 yrs.. same email for 20 yrs. No one called or emailed?” Gaines tweeted on Friday. “[Four] years later ‘friends’ reach out via lawsuit.. humm.”
However, Lewis says Gaines has known about the claims against him since last summer. Lewis noted that his attorney reached out to the HGTV star via email in July or August of 2016.
“We were doing everything we could in an attempt to resolve this matter privately,” Lewis tells PEOPLE. “We waited as long as we could before having to file this lawsuit.”
He adds: “But as of today, [Gaines] has failed to take responsibility for any of the allegations outlined in our petition.”
Mayfield confirmed that Gaines learned of the allegations in July 2016.
“The fact is that for over 3 years Chip heard nothing from Mr. Lewis or Mr. Clark about these issues,” he tells PEOPLE. “The first time he did hear from them was in the form of a demand letter from a lawyer threatening a lawsuit.”
Lewis and Clark founded the company with Gaines in 2007 and the business largely operated out of Waco with a single real estate agent, according to the suit. Now, the Magnolia firm employs “over 93 real estate agents” and operates in nearly every major city in Texas, the suit alleges.
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Now, Lewis says he’s “hoping for justice” as a result of this lawsuit — but doubts he and Gaines will ever be friends the way they once were.
“We had been friends for over a decade up until I sold him my interest in the company,” he tells PEOPLE.