EFI evaluator seeking quality investor information

June 24, 2008

By DANIEL BLACKBURN and KAREN VELIE

A Fresno attorney appointed earlier this month to widen the examination of troubled lender Estate Financial Inc. (EFI) is enlisting the help of UncoveredSLO.com’s readers.

Independent evaluator Hanno Powell, an attorney with the firm of Powell and Pool, posted two messages June 21 on this Web site, seeking help from investors with specific knowledge of questionable activities by EFI personnel.

Powell has a little more than 30 days to present San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Barry T. LaBarbera an evaluation of EFI’s books. Some investors had asked the judge to appoint a receiver to manage the fund’s assets. The judge said he wanted an independent evaluation before he would render any decision.

The Paso Robles firm has been the target recently of multiple lawsuits and a battery of complaints from worried investors. The company has stopped making interest payments and is struggling to stay afloat in a crashing real estate market.

“I recognize that my request of this blog is unorthodox,” Powell wrote, “but given the limited time and budget I will use all means at my disposal to gather the needed information.”

Specifically, the evaluator said he is looking for “information on specific loans; investors in the fund; past employees, agents or officers of EFI; any known or suspected incidents of fraud, misrepresentation, or malfeasance regarding EFI.”

Powell said, “By reaching out through your site I am asking people to show me. I appreciate that they are upset. Show me what it is that you are upset about. Was there some misrepresentation made? Tell me what it was, so I can filter it all out.”

The attorney said he was “reaching out to new technology as a way to speed up the process. How can I get my message out to 1,600 investors in a short time?”

LaBarbera also allowed only $10,000 to cover the attorney’s work. Other attorneys contacted by UncoveredSLO.com said the kind of project assigned to Powell would generally be worth at least $10,000 a week, and should require significantly more time. There will be no time for a forensic accountant to examine EFI’s books under the current schedule. “And I think that’s what the investors want,” he added.

Powell said earlier this week that he has already gotten more than three dozen e-mails from investors who saw his message on this site.

“We don’t have the luxury of time,” he said. “And the judge is saying, ‘I need to hear more information.’” LaBarbera has scheduled a hearing for July 22 and 23.

Powell said he wasn’t surprised that the judge chose to appoint an evaluator rather than a receiver.

“To do something as extreme as ousting the management of such a large fund without a full hearing of both sides you better have a smoking gun in hand,” he said. “The judge is looking for enough information, some evidence, that would be compelling enough to appoint a receiver.”

Powell noted that he already has met with EFI principals Karen Guth, Josh Yaguda, and the company’s accountant.

“I made it very clear to them that I am independent,” he said. “I am not on a witch hunt.”

Powell can be reached at hpowell@powellandpool.com.

Tags:, EFI, Estate Financial


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6 Comments

  1. ccn_debate says:

    Member Opinions:
    By: Anonymous on 6/26/08
    MJC says:

    I would love to know what you have done Ron Cooper. Have you found a way to get back the money that was stolen from me?

    9:55 pm this evening – New article on Uncoveredslo.com titled "EFI forced into Chapter 11"

    You just don't get it!!! The money never gotto Ron Cooper or other borrowers. If you are an investor, havesome more COOL AID> you needit to numyour pai.

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  2. ccn_debate says:

    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    I would love to know what you have done Ron Cooper. Have you found a way to get back the money that was stolen from me?

    9:55 pm this evening – New article on Uncoveredslo.com titled "EFI forced into Chapter 11"
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    a friend says:

    The judge's order never mentions $10,000.00. It clearly sates, all payment to be paid by the FUND.
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    To Insider:

    You are correct the minute you ask for financial help everyone becomes deaf.
    You either stand up for your self or you sit back and let someone else do the work while you complain. Those are the only two types of victims.

    To clairfy the amount of money Mr Powell has to work with, It can change at any time based on the judge.
    At the point a full court appointed receiver takes control his fee will come from the fund. Yes believe it or not YOU will have to participate in the cost of defending what is left of your investment.
    I dont understand why so many are more concerned with what they may have to pay and less concerned with what they may loose.
    We are at the begining of the end, if you have information to contribuite do it now!!
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    TO CONCERNED:

    Pls. contact me. (818) 225-1528 or ron@cooperdevelopment.com
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    Funny I posted a comment on the possibility of investors contributing small amounts to a fund that would help provide additional funds to assist in Mr. Powells investigation. Not one comment. I post a comment on the event last night at the City Council in Atascadero and you guys post six comments telling me not to get off subject. In the early days of this situation I backed the investors all the way often the only one fighting back against several bloggers that quite simply thought a fool and his money is soon parted. Maybe they were right.
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    The beginning to an end to start soon. Final count down.
    Keep tuned in.
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick tock….. time is shortening fast.
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    To Concerned:
    Once the judge puts the receiver in place, he will oversee ALL of Estate Financial – trust deeds and the Fund.
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    I agree with those who would like to see blogs stay on subject with the article they are posted under. It is tedious to weed through all the other stuff that many of us know nothing about. We can't all do everything. Isn't there a blog site somewhere for A town people to vent on?
    The issues with EFI and Hurst are huge and important. If we can focus a bit we might be able to discover some way to find a way out of this mess. I see Ron Cooper has listed contact info for EF issues. Roi has done the same for Hurst people on many of these sites. Contact them if you are investors in trouble-all investors are in trouble.

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  3. ccn_debate says:

    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    TO CONCERNED:

    Great questions. I have finally done something to answer your questions and mine. I would appreciate it if you would email me ron@cooperdevelopment.com or call me at (818) 225-1528 so we can discuss this matter in detail. Time is of the essence.
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    Explain this to me? If Roger Fredrickson is after the Fund? Who is going after EFI? If someone else pursues EFI then looks like we may have different receivers or? involved with the two seperate entities. Are there any plans to tackle both companies with one stroke? What's current plan to take down EFI not just the Fund?
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    And 'insider' I would expect you to be much more sophisticated and polite than this. Suddenly you become an opportunist who's trying to get all involved with your agenda/thoughts? Knock it off!
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    Get your political opinions off this post! Ask Dan to write an article for you so you can blog away about your unrelated EFI issues. There are hundreds who check this blog everyday only to see your garbage. Go 'waaaaaa' somewhere else. This isn't fair to EFI concerned parties!!
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    to What?

    Waaaaaaaaaaaaa!
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    For those of us who are trying to stay current with the EFI mess, it becomes tedious to fish through a bunch of posts that don't relate to our problem.
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    To What?

    Well do you have something to say about EFI. It's not like there is limited space. Speak up what's your info. It's more like a news break or a commercial. Stay tuned. I'd love to hear whats going on with EFI
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    "EFI evaluator seeking quality investor information"
    What do all of these recent comments have to do with the posted article?
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    After last nights vote it is clearly time for the residents of Atascadero to just say a BIG NO to Ellen Beraud. A consistant No voter for anything that could be good for Atascadero. Check her voting record back thru the Planning Commission. This person is not serving in the best interest of Atascadero. Her actions amplify why businesses will not consider Atascadero.
    Now for the scarry part. Next year she will be the mayor of Atascadero. How is that going to work when she doesn't appear at public events, doesn't return emails, will not answer her phone let alone return the messages that her husband takes. Is that a representative of the people. I think not. It appears that Berkley definetly left its mark on Ellen Beraud. Besides the shield initiative her other big item of support was for marijuana distribution centers in Atascadero.

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  4. ccn_debate says:

    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    to Anonymous

    Correct. The final motion was to send the item to the ballot in Nov. 4 voted yes and the turtle votes NO.
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    Wait! I thought Ellen voted against it going to ballot. She wanted to adopt the Shield on the spot. Am I wrong?
    By: Anonymous on 6/25/08
    ABA 1 OWM 0

    A big win for the citizens of Atascadero.
    I guess I was right about Comar and Ellen "the turtle" Beraud. Comar tried to push to have the initiative adopted as is and THE TURTLE stared at her hand all night then voted NO, complained about her pay and called for an immediate adjournment. The red faced Smokey the Bear Brennler tried to bully everyone he could from O'Malley and Clay to some little old lady who told him to shut his trap she had had enough. I think she was going to invite him to the parking lot for a minute there. Good luck in November OWM. And by the way your doing a great job at undermining the credibility of your own canidates. Thanks from the other side.

    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    PASOLIVO WEBSITE MARKETING AND SALES SAYS:
    YOUR CART IS EMPTY!
    Guth and Yagudas cart is FULL of OUR money, but not for long!
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    Trust in the System says:

    Patience, Fellow Investors, patience. Our day is dawning.

    I ain't got no more patiense!!! I want some big ass wipped boyy!!! I wan it now!!!1
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    Patience, Fellow Investors, patience. Our day is dawning.
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    Black Helicopter Pilot says:

    The problem, it seems, is that you are as "serious as a heart attack" and I'm not.

    Cannot you tell when your leg is being pulled?

    Shhesh

    OK. How do I know you joking. This is a very seriou issue. In case you over looked it.
    But, I am with you

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  5. ccn_debate says:

    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    The problem, it seems, is that you are as "serious as a heart attack" and I'm not.

    Cannot you tell when your leg is being pulled?

    Shhesh
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    Anonymous says:

    To Black Helicopter Pilot,

    That's a serious allegation if you are implying the judge, EFI and Powell are all 'involved' fraudulantly. Where is your evidence to back that up?
    I do concur with blogger 'Why' that it's rediculous Hanno only gets 10K making his job next to impossible! What is the judge thinking?

    Why attacking the Judge and Hanno with complicity? The judge's order specifically obligates EFI or the Fund to pay for Hanno. No mention of $10,000 limit what so ever.
    Hanno will do what he can in a shorth time and not enough staff. Karen will erect obsticles within that time frame to obstruct any investigation. However, Hanno needs to find only one maybe two irregularities with fuding and use of money. That will give the judge enough evidence for further action. The judge acted with restrain by listening to both sides. Give him credit please! We want faster action that proves our case, but the wheels of justice has its own speed and rules.
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    Yes, The the judge is judging, EFI is scrambling and Powell is investigating. All are involved wouldn't you say?

    Are you saying that the information posted on this blog is believable? Most of it is pure horseshit! Wanna but a tin hat?
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    To Black Helicopter Pilot,

    That's a serious allegation if you are implying the judge, EFI and Powell are all 'involved' fraudulantly. Where is your evidence to back that up?
    I do concur with blogger 'Why' that it's rediculous Hanno only gets 10K making his job next to impossible! What is the judge thinking?
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    insider:

    I don't pass out anything, I'm a hibitual capitalist, so the tin hats are for sale; and let me tell you, it's time like now that I really make a killing. I will make many sales tonight before the Atascadero CC meeting. I would state what size Bremmler and Beraud wear, but that would be a breech of confidentiallity.
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    Hopefully, this one guy can get done what the DRE and DOC have not been able to do for 6-8 months other than closing the fund to new investors. With all the misinformation flying around on this site it is clear some individuals want him to spend his resolurces and time chasing dead ends or unrealted entities.
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    to Black Helicopter Pilot

    Are you the one who likes to pass out the tin foil hats? If all the money is gone why not just take a look? If Powell is experienced in this he should know just what to look for. He doesn't have to find all things just enough to show a pattern. Just follow the money.

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  6. ccn_debate says:

    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    It's all a facade to make all of us think good is being done. I know that all the $ is gone and that the judge, EFI and Powell are all involved.

    And tonite, the Atascadero will embrace "The Shield."
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    correction

    Is the $10,000 an absolute limit or would the judge allow investors to set up an account that the investors that wanted to could contribute to just for this evaluator.
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    Is the $10,000 and absolute limit or would the judge allow investors to set up an account that the investors that wanted to could. It contribute to just for this evaluator. I realize the cost of this action has been carried by a few however this would allow small investors to contribute a small amount say a hundred or two which could add up to tens of thousands and allow for a more thorough investigation while the door is open. Just a thought. It is interesting that Hanno Powell recognized the importance of this blog as a resource and I think everyone knows at this point without this blog no justice may have been had. Ask questions it hasn't hurt so far.
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    Why did the judge provide Powell with an inadequate amount of time and money? Guth objected to the money being paid from her money pool, the fund. Investors object to their money being in the control of the obviously inadequate fund management of Karen and Josh. You would think with thousands of seniors having their life savings invested in the fund, the judge would have provided Powell with the time and money to do a thorough investigation. But then Guth wanted her so called fund money protected. Who is protecting the investors? Why don’t the authorities in SLO County see the need to step in while there is still some money left?
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    I'm sure if any of you are involved in the DA Fetko (I'm sorry if the spelling is wrong) loans many things went wrong there. Didn't Karen end up a partner. Pick a few loans that you know were handled in an inappropriate manner and focus on the money trail. Get with this guy and help him. The last thing you need is EFI proclaiming this as some kind of vindication. Where's Ron Cooper bring him in.
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    30 days is not long enough and $10,000 not enough money.
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    I'm thinking that the lady that spoke at the big meeting (barebra?) would have a boatload of info to pass on to Powell. I mean, she spent $35K and if she did that with NO evidence of criminal acts, she would be considered a fool, dontcha think?
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    to rdog:
    actions, however late, speak louder than words–don't you think?
    By: Anonymous on 6/24/08
    leave it to SLO County to take 12 months to file a misdemeanor case, but only give 30 days for this case.

    No logic there. I ask why?

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