Gearhart pleads not guilty to fraud

August 14, 2012

Kelly Gearhart and James Miller

By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN

Onetime Atascadero “Person of the Year” Kelly Gearhart pleaded not guilty to 16 charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering at his arraignment Monday at a federal court in Los Angeles.

The former North County developer faces up to 300 years in federal prison if convicted on all charges.

Gearhart and the former president of Hurst Financial, James Miller, have been accused of helping to defraud more than 1,200 investors of more than $100 million in an alleged Ponzi Scheme. Miller and Gearhart bilked investors who put money into Central Coast real estate projects and then siphoned off the monies for other purposes, including maintaining lavish lifestyles, federal authorities alleged.

Their victims include senior citizens, many whom invested their life’s savings with Gearhart and Miller, and local charities such as the Atascadero Meals On Wheals program which reduced meals sizes after losing its investment.

Gearhart’s and Miller’s charges came as part of a larger organized crime investigation, according to a federal seizure warrant for the proceeds from the sale of Miller’s home in 2009.

On Aug. 19, 2011,  Miller agreed to plead guilty to charges of fraud and money laundering as part of a plea agreement the court then filed under seal. However, the court did not order Miller to be taken into custody while permitting him to post a $50,000 bail. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 29 in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

After Gearhart pled not guilty, Federal Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian for the United States District Court for the Central District of California placed Gearhart’s bond at $100,000. Two people, a friend and a relative of Gearhart’s, pledged $50,000 surety bonds each to cover the $100,000 bail requirement. Gearhart was not taken into custody.

Assistant United States Attorney Stephen I. Goorvitch of the major fraud section said his office was not releasing the names of Gearhart’s bond holders, though he did say they didn’t appear to be involved in Gearhart’s alleged criminal activity.

“Gearhart did not pay his own bond,” Goorvitch said. “Two people pledged $50,000 each. We do not believe they were involved in the crime.”

Shortly after Monday’s hearing, prosecutors and Gearhart’s public defenders filed a request to continue Gearhart’s trial from Oct. 29 to Jan. 29.

Gearhart’s attorneys said they need more time to review the voluminous amounts of evidence including tapes of a radio show in which Gearhart called into the Dave Congalton talk show on KVEC to claim CalCoastNews’ articles on his alleged fraud schemes were untrue.

The request also says the parties are working on a plea agreement.

“Defense counsel, defendant and the government are discussing whether this case may be resolved without the need for a trial, pursuant to a plea agreement,” the request says.


62 Comments

  1. Nancimeek says:

    According to documents obtained from the courts the partners Chris Molina, Kelly Gearhart, Dan Phillips and attorney Robert Grigger Jones were equal partners in Pe Ji Ho ta. They were or still are Pe Ji Ho Ta…………..The buy in for each one was $646,000. So if someone from Pe Ji Ho Ta had as you allege told the bankruptcy court that Kelly gearhart was NOT involved with the Pe Ji Ho Ta casino it would make no sense. Kelly Geahart was one of four partners. It would appear you are misinformed. http://imokproductions.com/home

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

    • SmilingJack says:

      I’n talking about the partners saying to the trustee that they weren’t aware that Kelly was involved with other crooked dealings. That was reported on this site a few years back. That was when the court allowed them to make a deal with any future profits that the casino would bring in, can’t remember if it was for Kelly’s share or not.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      • Nancimeek says:

        I would have a hard time believing that the partners DID NOT KNOW about Kelly Gearhart’s other dealings especially when Attorney Robert grigger Jones admitted in court during our litigation in Hawaii that Kelly Gearhart was his long time partner with several real estate deals, Gearhart’s former secretary told me personally that Gearhart was involved with alot of “get rich quick schemes” with Attorney Jones, Also Jones former secretaries have admitted that Jones was always looking for a way to make a “quick buck” and Gearhart and Jones were “Thick as Thieves”. And Jones’ secretary Colleen was involved notarizing a document for Jay Miller at one point……another document that was notarized TWICE??????????? Karen Velie reported on that one a few years ago.

        The Jones’ former secretaries also disputed two letters that showed up at the last minute during our last closed door hearing, supposedly sent from jones’ office……….. Both secretaries are of the opinion the letters showed up AFTER our father died. Much the same as the supposed “First Amendment” to Dad’s trust. http://imokproductions.com/home

        If the other partners were allowed a deal somewhere along the way I would suspect they weren’t telling the bankruptcy court EVERYTHING.

        Perhaps someone needs to remind Gearhart, Jones, Phillips, Molina, Jay Miller and those helping them out that “It is so much easier to just tell the truth!”

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

        • SmilingJack says:

          That’s what I meant. They try to act innocent and proceed to try to get federally recognized to carry on the scam to get a casino, promising to get the tribal members checks so they’ll go along with them. Supposedly they get them a school, medical clinic and on and on. Anybody that disagrees with their story, gets intiminated. They try to scare people off.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

        • cheseburger says:

          That’s would be nice, and nicer if dear little, Courtney Brard would show up for her next Review hearing in the Paso court, this time she is facing SANCTIONS for missing her court appearance, now it’s going to happen DEC. 12, 2012, but it’s going to happen, she took my money and paid it out in loan payments within four days, and I can prove it and everyone knows it’s true, VICE-PRESIDENT of HURST FINANCIAL, you are going down in CIVIL COURT, just like OJ.

          Any one have a current address, I am going to have her personally served, or serve her by mail again at the address ROBERT M. JONES gave me and push through the sanctions!

          Oh, I just called his office and he has retired, and the new mean secretary for the new lawyer who took his place was no help at all, she didn’t even know how to tell time.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

          • Nancimeek says:

            The secretary Jones had who hung up on me on several occasions was Colleen Alexander. Numerous times and early on we left message after message with no response from Jones. Requests by the beneficiaries for copies of the 1st Amendment and other documents were slow in being released and of course they NEVER gave us a copy of the 1st amendment with the forged signatures.

            Was it the same secretary? She was rude to my brother as well. My brother called several times and in 2005 she lied to my brother saying Jones was no longer involved with the case and yet his name was attached to properties HE was helping Elizabeth our stepmother continue to sell. And of course we all know about the Pe Ji Ho Ta debacle……………..

            I heard he retired last year. Smart move since he could very well be disbarred.
            At least he has passed the legal torch onto his daughter……..

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

          • Nancimeek says:

            Isn’t Courtney Brard living with Kelly Gearhart’s brother? I thought there was some family connection between Jay Miller and Gearhart?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

            • cheseburger says:

              No that’s Melanie Snyder from Stewart Title co. Boy that sure looks bad for them.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. SmilingJack says:

    Nancimeek: wasn’t the story the Peyjihota told the Federal Bankruptcy court was they didn’t know that their “leader”, Mr. Gearhart, was involved in “dirty deals”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

    • Nancimeek says:

      The correct spelling is Pe Ji Ho Ta. The address provided on one of several filings performed by Attorney Robert Grigger Jones is Pe Ji Ho Ta 8315 Morro Rd Atascadero, CA 93422-3944 (805) 460-9202 Another address listed for Pe ji Ho ta is 7070 Morro Road, Atascadero with the same phone number

      To view copies of those filings go to :

      http://www.scribd.com/doc/34970202/PEJIHOTAfilings

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  3. Pete says:

    The Crow has a good idea. The CC and C of C should pass resolutions condemning his actions and damning the day they thought him ‘citizen of the year’, he should be known as ‘crook of the decade” from now on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

    • Chicken Boo says:

      Well, Pete, if Atascadero’s history repeats itself, Kelly and Jay will be lovingly welcomed back with a big Bar B Q after they’ve done their “time” This town was built on corruption….it’s like it’s in it’s ‘blood’. I sure wish they’d collect up the other bottom-feeder developers who were right in there with the worst, cheating and robbing us while we slept…….(literally)

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1

      • Slowerfaster says:

        Atascadero was built on restrictive covenants and racism.
        Is it any wonder that low grade bigots are perfect marks to be fleeced, and to be a magnet for flim-flam artists ?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 11

    • Nancimeek says:

      Attorney Robert Grigger Jones who was recorded on transcripts in Hawaii courts during our litigations last year ( http://imokproductions.com/home ) stating that he and Kelly Gearhart were partners in real estate dealings was also named Atascadero Chamber of Commerce “man of the year”.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  4. asthecrowphlies says:

    It is too little , too late , but would it kill the Atascadero City counsel to pass a measure that would officially resend Gearhart’s awards for business man and citizen of the year .

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 45 Thumb down 2

    • Mr. Holly says:

      It was the Chamber of Commerce that selects the “Citizen of the Year.” The city council has nothing to do with it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 22

      • cheseburger says:

        Again petty corrections, I think he has a great idea, and like in the military Gearhart/Jones/ all the alleged crooks should be stripped of their medals and/or awards!

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 4

      • asthecrowphlies says:

        Who picks the award is not my concern . Chamber-sha-maimber someone should pass a measure , worded , to remove the awards from Gearhart . We could just leave those years on the awards blank .

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 1

    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      I gave you a thumb up, but may I suggest that the word is spelled “rescind” :–)

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 17

  5. danika says:

    To put this in perspective; steal a bottle of juice from a store on a very hot day and get arrested, tossed onto hot pavement, resulting in 3rd degree burns…go to jail.

    Steal $Millions from investors, declare bankruptcy, go to Ohio, and then likely vacation on your ill gotten gains for the rest of your life.

    Justice is not only blind, she is laughing her fanny off.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 46 Thumb down 3

    • thinkaboutit says:

      Yes, very unfortunately.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

    • cheseburger says:

      A lot more than very unfortunate more like as screwed up as it came be, cops can do there job with out injuries to a woman, torture on the pavement for a bottle of pop, like to railroad spike Gearhart’s wrists and ankles to the same spot for eternity, now that would be some justice!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

    • cheseburger says:

      Think about this, she knew she was getting burned and she knew she was being videoed, and she know the court system, the cops should of known that a person is not-guilty until after proven guilty, no matter what they cannot administer the penalty for the crime at the time of the arrest, on the other hand if this woman was broke enough to steal a bottle of pop, she may have burned her arm possibly a little more than it would have been burned intentionally, none the less, the cops are responsible for a person doing harm to themselves also after putting the cuffs on, either way this county is going to pay again for actions that could of been avoided.
      At this point I bet the cop wishes he had bought the soda and let her go with his 79 cents.
      And the county tax payers would also wish this, I do! $1,000,000 for burns or a dollar for a soda?
      Not the subject but it came up.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  6. Jorge Estrada says:

    Gearhart The Patriot Shines Again: A New York bank finally pleaded no contest to money laundering BILLIONS of Iranian dollars and were levied a 340 MILLION dollar fine. This fine allows them to continue to do buisness in our finacial mecca, New York, and no individual was charged of any crime. Yes, Gearhart the Patriot only spent U.S. dollars to support U.S. buisness and simply failed at managing a dollar amount that was one third of what was deamed a petty fine in New York.

    I guess he can start polishing his man of the year plaque again and we can be greatful that law enforcement didn’t shut him down. He may have sued the County of San Luis Obispo for unlawfully interfering with free enterprize and probably would have won in a New York minute.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 26

    • cheseburger says:

      What are you working for him, please go outside fill a bucket with water and soak your head in it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 2

      • Jorge Estrada says:

        Hey cheseburger, be a big mac and don’t get mad, get informed. A highly regulated series of events, the best that money can buy, has opened your eyes. Remember to stop, assess and then dial 911. Gearhart has plead not guilty and certainly, once upon a time, he plead a great business strategy.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 24

        • cheseburger says:

          Gorge you write on a previous post
          “Crazier things have happened like getting a twenty percent return on your investment. ”

          This would be you and your mad because you got money back?

          A lot of people died who didn’t get 20%. End of story, now, head back in the bucket.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

          • Jorge Estrada says:

            cheseburger, sorry but I don’t collect coins, sell for profit and never invested my money in someone elses promise. I do feel for the Gearheart victims, some of which I personally know. For the decency of civilization as I’d want it to be, no twisted humor, Gearhart should be locked up and face each of his victims. I hate to think of the reasons he is not. Just know that my wit is for the awakening, I disagree with allowing time to rip off my friends.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8

    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      Jorge, Jorge, Jorge. WHO’s money was it that Gearhart spend to support the businesses you mentioned? OH YEA THAT’S RIGHT. The INVESTORS!!!! Oh and you mention supporting the local business. I was one of them he supported and he screwed me to the tune of five figures. Save your sanctimonious B.S. for your friend Gearhart. It doesn’t wash around this County for all the people that where and are here and know what went down. Nice try.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 2

      • cheseburger says:

        Thanks BTDT, I won’t lower myself to respond to Jorge, he’s worse than me when I didn’t have spell check and I don’t really even get his point? Let’s not feed him.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 4

  7. Pete says:

    I remember that radio show.
    While he was denying everything I called in to ask him a few questions. At the mention of my first name he butted in “Is this Pete _____?” I was taken aback since I had never met the crook, but I had advocated in support of the Estate Financial victims and then those of Hurst as well ( where Gearhart did his crimes).
    So, somehow the bum heard of me (simply seeking the truth, and justice for the victims of his crimes) and he was furious I had the audacity to call in and question him.

    I’ve always regretted not rushing down to the station and having a little ‘chat’ with him as he exited. The damage he and many others (too numerous to name!) did is almost without parallel in current times. I share Cheseburger’s attitude about these bums.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 63 Thumb down 2

    • pasoparent5 says:

      You didn’t have that “chat” with the bum back then…but I’m really surprised that no one from A-town has gone back to OH and had a “chat” with Kelly there. I’d love to see some hidden camera footage of some fraud victims confronting Kelly on the depressing streets of Wadsworth, OH.
      No, I’m not advocating any kind of vigilante justice, just some good ol’ 60 Minutes-style reporting where someone wears a hidden-cam and sits down w/Kelly at a slummy coffee shop and gets him to ‘spill the beans’. The guy’s ego is gigantic and I’d pay money to watch him blab about his exploits!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 2

      • Fedup says:

        Someone from around here did have a “chat” with him in Ohio.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2

        • centralcoastcoyote says:

          Name them? I know everyone you do and have heard the wise tales. sounds like the crap Ive been hearing for 4 years down at el camino building supply.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

          • SmilingJack says:

            calcoastcoyote, you seem to know alot about what these people are doing or were doing, do you hang out with them?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

            • centralcoastcoyote says:

              Where did I say I knew what they are/were doing? I know about as much as everyone else on here thinks which in reality is about jack s@!t

              What will you all of you have to talk about if he walks? Casey Anthony / OJ all walked it could happen

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

            • centralcoastcoyote says:

              Where did I say I knew what they are/were doing? I know about as much as everyone else on here thinks which in reality is about jack s@!t
              What will you all of you have to talk about if he walks? Casey Anthony / OJ all walked it could happen

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

    • cheseburger says:

      Thanks Hotdog, I wish the FBI had gotten on the ball a little sooner, you know all the crooks are still happily spending our dimes. Follow the money, somebody knows about stuffing those cardboard boxes full of money and flying that jet to the Bahamas, this was a creditable source of information.
      IN closing what happened to this country? It seems scams are the way some make a living, utterly disgusting.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

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