Weyrich living high while employees and brides-to-be suffer
January 19, 2010
By KAREN VELIE
While North County businessman David Weyrich has insufficient funds in his accounts to cover payroll checks and has refused to return wedding reservation deposits, he continues to live high on the hog, CalCoastNews has learned.
Employees of Weyrich’s Villa Toscana have informed couples who made reservations for their 2010 weddings that their deposits of up to $10,000 – in some cases – won’t be returned.
The luxury bed and breakfast spot in Paso Robles, the couples have been told, is to be closed, sources told CalCoastNews.
Jenn Hocker, a wedding designer and coordinator with Allure Event Design in San Luis Obispo, said that one of the biggest challenges these couples face will be trying to find a new venue this late in the (spring wedding) season.
“Even if they have sent out their invitations, they need to focus and pick a new venue,” Hocker said. “A lot of people book Villa Toscana because it is a dream place. I feel very sorry for everyone involved.”
Meanwhile, wedding professionals throughout San Luis Obispo County have pledged to offer substantial discounts to prospective brides who had booked their weddings at Villa Toscana.
For example, Vintage Traditions has stepped forward to assist couples who suddenly find themselves without a wedding venue by offering special rates at Avila Beach Golf Resort, Blacklake Golf Resort and Santa Margarita Ranch.
“The community will try to help out those in need with venues, unfortunately, it is a little late in the season,” said Sean Dasmann, Central Coast Wedding Professionals public relations director.
In addition, for more than a year, Weyrich has frequently paid his Carlton Hotel employees with checks that bounce. Employees claim managers at the Atascadero hotel wait until after 6 p.m. on Friday to distribute paychecks.
Employees, aware of Weyrich’s money woes, would race to Santa Lucia Bank on Monday mornings to be the first in line to be paid. Those at the end of the line had about a 50 percent chance that their checks would clear, sources said.
“You would have to be one of the first in line to be able to cash your check,” said Cassandra Hetrick, a former front desk assistant who quit the week before Christmas because she could not afford to buy gas to get to work. “I was warned after I was hired not to put the checks in my account because they would bounce.”
Though she has tried numerous times to cash the last paycheck she was given, she has been unsuccessful.
“I have one paycheck from Dec. 11 and they still owe me another check,” Hetrick said.
Meanwhile, Weyrich has moved out of his former 7,700-square-foot home because of a foreclosure, and is currently renting a 4,300-square-foot, $2 million home on Beaver Creek Road in Paso Robles.
“I think it stinks,” Hetrick said of Weyrich’s opulent lifestyle while not paying his employees. “Compared to the rent of a $2 million mansion, my $600 check is chump change. You have to take care of the people who work for you.”
Weyrich received his investment capital in 1998 when he sold Martin Media for $610 million, a company previously owned by father-in-law Edward Martin. The proceeds were divided up between family members and investors.
During the past 10 years, Weyrich invested in a number of risky business ventures, including a chain of “family-values” newspapers, scores of upscale real-estate developments, wineries, hotels and a jet-leasing business. He purchased millions of dollars in property, jet aircraft and a yacht.
Currently, Weyrich is deep in debt. He owes approximately $60 million to more than 150 agencies, lenders, vendors and individuals, according to inside sources familiar with his finances.
During the past few months, one of Weyrich’s creditors, Transamerica Financial Life Insurance Co., has been attempting to force a public auction of Villa Toscana, Martin and Weyrich Winery, York Mountain Winery and several vineyards to cover a $20 million debt. The auction, already postponed several times, is now scheduled for Feb. 1.
Neither Weyrich nor managers of some of his various ventures responded to CalCoastNews’ repeated requests for comment.