Santa Margarita Ranch property on auction block

December 8, 2008


A thousand-acre parcel of the controversial Santa Margarita Ranch, owned by developer Ronald Hertel, is in default and will be sold at auction December 30.

Also on the block, this one slated for December 22, is a Pismo Beach Hertel development project; both will be offered at sales to be conducted near the entrance of the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse.

The properties being sold are at the center of numerous multi-million-dollar default judgments against Hertel in favor of commercial lenders. Transamerica Financial Life Insurance Co. is foreclosing on Hertel for failure to make payments on a $7.6 million loan on a parcel located on the Santa Margarita Ranch.

Hertel owns a portion of Santa Margarita Ranch in his name (the parcel in default), and another section jointly owned with Rob Rossi, Robert Fowler, Richard Willrodt , Clayton Woosley, Douglas Filipponi, and Cindy Wittstrom, according to a farm subsidy database.

Between 2004 and 2006, the group was paid more than $62,000 in federal livestock, wheat, barley, and safflower subsidies on one parcel in Santa Margarita Ranch, according to the database. Through farm subsidies, government funds are paid to farmers to help supplement their income.

In addition to the Santa Margarita Ranch judgment, Hertel owes Heritage Oaks Bank $7 million for a 2006 construction loan on an undeveloped parcel located at 360 Park Avenue in Pismo Beach. This auction will help the bank recover a portion of the money loaned for the proposed construction of 14 condominiums.

Hertel paid $1 million for the Pismo Beach property in 2002. He has not yet started construction of the condos or grading of the lot.

These two auctions, coupled with mounting default notices from Coast National Bank, illustrate the financial troubles in which Hertel and his partner Robert Fowler are enmeshed. Sources have provided CalCoastNews with information of an ongoing fraud investigation of Hertel and Fowler. Officials from the SLO County district attorney’s office denied the existence of an investigation.

On December 8, the Contractors State License Board suspended R. W. Hertel and Sons’ license for failure to comply with an outstanding civil judgment, and as the result of a contractors bond suspension.


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By: shingh on 2/4/09

I recommend you all read this weeks Pacific Coast Business Times interesting expose on Hertel's partner Robert Fowler and his massive tax issues, with Santa Margarita Ranch.

By: pixieboohoo on 1/29/09

Grantor/Grantee Record


Number Document

Date Pages Document Type

2008052321 10/17/2008 1 TAX LIENS ST, COUNTY, CITY ETC

Grantor Grantee



One of 20 defaults filed with county over the last 2 years? No wonder he defends this kind of shady business practice!

By: Josixpack on 1/26/09

Charlie Whitney-AKA ..PixieBlue sky…talk about minding your own business and fighting your own battles?….your nose is everywhere the money goes-Why DO you keep defending illegal behavior and these corrupt scams??? Rambling on about conflicts of interest that don't exist when you've got a REAL finantial one right under your nose? Sniff hard…then hold out your hand.

By: shingh on 1/20/09

Add more loan problems to Hertel and Fowler according to a posting on the Federal Sites and in the many Newspapers in Calif. including today's Tribune Hertel and Fowler et al are being sued again big time by East West Bank Case # 628900 by an Insurance company for loan fraud and defaults up in Stanislaus Superior Court so the scam keeps growing….

By: pixiebluesky on 1/9/09

jesus… JO SIX PACK – aka miranda joseph…

MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!! you need to get a friggin life!

By: George on 1/4/09

Abdicate: to give up one's responsibilities

I advise not trolling moderators.

bans have happened for less.

By: averagejo on 1/2/09

Stefan-no personal attacks?! That is exactly what this site abdicates. The ARTICLES are personal attacks! What a weak attempt at legitimizing this site and the postings on it. These low life /no life blog trolls are pathetic.

By: Gsan on 12/30/08

Who won the auction?

By: Stefan on 12/29/08

No personal attacks, please stay on topic or have your comment deleted.

To joesixpak: please stop shouting (all caps).

By: MUM on 12/24/08

While shopping and going to lunch at Mother's Tavern about 12:23 this afternoon who do we find sitting near us Supervisor Katcho and none other than Santa Margarita Ranch Developer and defaulted businessman Robert Fowler so I only heard part of the conversation but it was apparently a thanks for yesterdays vote. Then Fowler went on a shopping spree with all that money he defaulted and stole from investors and banks so much for Honest Businessmen with Ethics.

By: averagejo on 12/22/08

pixiebluesky…you are one of the few people on this godforsaken blog to make any truthful statement. You're right, "lynn" "singh" and I am sure "SUI" is the bat sh** crazy guy who has been haunting Hertel and Fowler for …well about 7 years now. He is delusional and disturbed. He conjures up conspiracy theories and tries to tie people and scandals together. He was involved in the Ross Perot scandal and a scandal involving a very decorated war veteran Colonel(who has stated on record that "he better never find him in a dark alley").

Hertel & Sons had the colossal misfortune of selling this guy a house in SLO. The windows (allegedly)leaked (just like the Vineyards in Templeton…different builder same roofer I believe…hmmmm) he saw $$ and he has had it out for them ever since. He has stalked them, their wives and their children. He has slandered them beyond belief on numerous blogs! DON'T believe any of his lies that you read!! There is not a Federal investigation or any other investigation for that matter. They went out of business due to the economy, plain and simple.

I am sure there will be plenty of responses to disqualify everything I have said. No matter though, what I said is the truth whether you believe me or not.

Dan- how ultimately disappointing, you know who this guy is and you are giving him a forum to continue his ridiculous rhetoric!

By: pixiebluesky on 12/22/08

jo… gallonegro… vaquera… (whatever you choose to call yourself)

lynn doesn't "spill the beans" because its all lies. The trib wouldn't print this garbage. "Lynn" is the same person who Hertel has had a restraining order against for years. This slander vendetta is about as bad as you are with the current ranch owners. Lynn is not a member of any tribe. Further, putting someone's license plate down displays the level of extremism. What's next? Going through their garbage? Spare us all the conspiracy theories. All will come out in the end. One would think that were Fowler and Rossi conniving this elaborate plan to “scam the Indians out of a casino” they might do it behind closed doors. What a bunch of salacious crap.

By: lynn on 12/19/08

Something is really wrong with this SMR deal, I and one associate where there this morning, we saw Robb Rossi, Robert Fowler both there lawyers Paul Metchik and William ( Bill) Walter all taking about how under a new LLC they could buy back two parcels now in default cheap at the auction and keep the money that Fowler and Hertel defaulted on. This is a scam Mr. Metchik then said how much would it cost to get the needed votes. People something is very wrong here, I was speaking to two tribal members on a unrelated issue when came up just out the back door by the Crepe Restaurant (now Closed) they all joked how they made millions off the lenders and if the project passed they could buy the land back under a new name and LLC for cheap and move ahead someone better take a good look on what is going on. The Vehicle three of them left in was a dark green rover Lic# 5DTJ448 it went to POZO RD. home.

By: Jordan on 12/19/08

Hotdog – I couldn't have said it better myself.

Mcdave – You hit the nail on the head.

By: hotdog on 12/18/08

S-guy, though you were off topic I'll take the bait. Carter was one of our greatest presidents, I think Obama will perhaps finally obliterate the dysfunctional love of that snake Reagan by our low level cretins. I know this is wasted on the likes of you but if reasonable people will give our new guy a chance to clean up the mess left by your crummy excuse for a human (bush) all will be pleasantly satisfied or (for the nay sayers) surprised.

If you can cool it on the hate machine and make an effort to allow this wise person to heal the wounds of the last 8 years we just might survive.

By: CarolAnnRiley on 12/16/08

Maybe s**tguy wanted to go purchase a piece of ag land and apply to the McCain cronies for some of those comfy subsidies.

By: calvertworthington on 12/13/08

Dont' fret sh*tguy, GW's handlers have left the nation well stocked with nested crooks and dweebs. Plenty to keep you comfy and safe.

By: SensitiveGuy on 12/13/08

lol at mccdave

Guess mccdave's Oreo is clean as the driven snow.Dumb azz ain't even taken office and the smell of his and his cronies stench is invading the fabric of Govt.Bet this will be the dumbest President since Jimmy Carter.

Uhhh I didn't know anything about Gov. Rod Blagojevich.Surprise surprise surprise

By: JorgeEstrada on 12/12/08

Ok, I read the story. Next week the Board of Supervisors are revisiting a Project on the Santa Margarita Ranch. I read a guilty by association story with a time line that puts a false spin on reality. A local paper is willing to do a comprehsive story but not until the BOS hearing is over, yet they are willing to write misleading snipits right now. OK let's be honest, without larceny, lilly white come clean: The Santa Margarita Ranch originally included over Sixteen Thousand acres of land and has it's fair share of pot heads, politicians and sex offenders, the world we live in. Now what does that have to do with my neighbor, my friends, my family, the frindge areas and within the Town of Santa Margarita? Nothing, unless the discussion is a pre-emptive smear in time for next weeks hearing. Back to honesty- every house and every parcel of land within the orignal ranch boundry is The Santa Margarita Ranch, aleast by direct association. We are not finacial scamers or thugs, vocal yes and not always right because of what we are feed to read.

By: Cindy on 12/11/08

Way to go Shingh.

By: shingh on 12/11/08

Those who have any evidence or documents or wish to let the Federal Gov't know of Tax Fraud, Loan Fraud, Bankruptcy Fraud or any other Crimes, I suggest you email Special Agent

Remember if you LIE to any Federal Agent it is a Felony.

By: Cindy on 12/11/08

Thanks for this story, it's very informative.

To Pixieblesky – This sounds like it's about a lot more than one of the partners having financial difficulties. For starters, what happened to the 7 million $ loan for the 360 Park Ave project and why did HOB release all those funds with 0 progress on the project? I have no doubt that Karen would have attempted to contact some of the partners for comment. Perhaps your one of them who prefers to speak here rather than answer her questions. You sound just like Kelly Gearhart and the EFI folks initially did when they got caught.

To SIU- Your "amusing" LOL.

By: SIU on 12/11/08

Well if you have Nothing to hide do worry, but since their are three hours different from you out West and our office, may i suggest you contact us directly you can post your email and we will be in touch. If your not part of the problem then join us in being part of the solutions. Sounds like some of you are afraid of something ? if your clean don't worry but if your dirty and have violated the Law, then you have reason to worry. We will be looking to hear from you ? Thank you CalCoast News for allowing those of have been scammed to report to the public. I and my associates look forward to seeing this all play out in the Criminal Courts. Next Monday we will have staff in San Luis Obispo interviewing victims and Investors. If you want to be interviewed Under Oath send us your name, phone number address and your Lawyers name and number. Their is no fear in telling the Truth.

By: Booty_Juice on 12/11/08

Yet another batshit crazy north county poster with multiple nicks and too much time on her hands.

Funny, sad and unsurprising that Karen sees fertile journalistic ground in typical redneck delusions.

By: mo on 12/10/08


you are full of crap! you are a nobody

By: hotdog on 12/10/08

SIU-what's the deal? Your note is so convoluted and illiterate as to be almost unreadable. Maybe you should ask the moderator to take it off and then you can rewrite it so we can make sense of it.

By: bobfromsanluis on 12/10/08

Newsome: Thanks for the EWG address. I looked there and found that six of the top twenty San Luis Obispo County recipients of ag subsidies were located in Santa Margarita. Interesting. I'm not sure if html embedding is available here, so here is the full url:

By: SIU on 12/10/08

I was recently notified of your site, I'm only interested in your Investigative Stories on, the Central Coast Financial problems. I am most interested in the SMR and it associates your article today it helpful most revealing.

We have been on behalf of several silent Investors, Financial Lenders in what has and is going on all over the SLO area with those whom you have named. If you have detailed information or sources who would be willing to be interviewed Under the penalty of Perjury Title 18 USC Sec 1001 we would like to hear from them. Their are some serious Legal and Criminal Issues involved and this is going to be bigger than your other scams as it all comes unraveled. Those who have Lied, Filed False Financial Statements, False and Perjured Loan Applications, and filed Perjured Statements in Affidavits and Depositions already on file in several of the State cases will need to hire a good lawyer. Our Investigation in Multi- State wide and involves many Banks the FDIC is involved as well. So those of you who think your smarter than the Government think again.

By: pixiebluesky on 12/10/08

What an idiotic (and completely typical) article by Karen Velie. Why not call the owner’s of the ranch and ask what the story is? The truth just isn’t salacious or sensational enough. Karen would rather slander the owners and have bloggers associate the ranch with some pervert in LA. Slingh was probably the informant on this article. She’s been trashing these people in the Trib blogs from day one. Why? Probably because it’s her lot in life to harangue the owners at every turn (pretty pathetic really). I foresee a follow-up article where Velie puts her foot in her mouth. If she doesn’t, then we really are living in a trashtastic tabloid world. And HODIN- Katcho is not a board member of any of the banks mentioned, not that it matters. The blogging world is full of misinformation and empty accusations. This story will NOT be bigger than EFI or Hurst/Gearheart. There is no story. A guy who used to be a partner in the Santa Margarita Ranch went broke. All jealous and spiteful let’s hear your applause.

By: shingh on 12/10/08

According to the Judicial Council and State Board Judge Barry LeBarbara is going to be removed from, several cases involving many of these suspects. Word on the street and in the chambers hall ways is the judge has protected some of these guys and delayed Justice for the many victims. Funny how this is the same judge who has been on all the financial scams cases and always gets removed ? today he is being removed from another case involving a federal X-Con who was involved in yet another Real Estate Scam. One has to wonder who pockets are in who's pants $$$

By: R.Hodin on 12/9/08

Should be an interesting public comment period at the Supe's Dec. 16th hearing to approve the ranch project. Isn't Katcho on the board of at least one of the (above) banks named as defendants, and an investor in another???

By: shingh on 12/9/08

One of the APN's is 070-095-001 another one is 070-132-007 there are more but at my office

This fraud is growing by the day as is the Tax scams if your a victim contact the IRS-CID office in Ventura or LA or FBI in LA tto.

By: slomacd on 12/9/08

I live on a part of the ranch. Does anyone have or know where the APN for foreclosed property is available?

By: Newsome on 12/9/08

mccdave, are you familiar with the Environmental WOrking Group site? As I recall, it shows where (and WHO) fed ag subsidies go to. I believe it's, or something similar.

By: Newsome on 12/9/08

This is GREAT. What an outstanding oppportunity for the Christies and PasoWatch to put their money where their mouth is an buy a part of SM Ranch to save!

By: shingh on 12/9/08

Great Expose' on these guys, I know several people who have lost out to them, were you aware that Hertel & Fowler's Parnter Richard Willrodt was arrested in Los Angles for Child Molestations and Violent Deviant Crimes against a small boy, this Willrodt fellow was not only the Hertel Fowler partner in the Ranch but he was the Company CPA and Computer Wiz kid ( he is spilling the beans on Hertel and Fowler) as well and the Police found plenty on his seized Laptop. The Federal Investigation doesn't NOT trust the local's due to what was found on the laptop's and due to Hertel and Fowler's close involvement with some of the DA's staff and at least one judge who according to one local lawyer is being removed this week from several cases involving Hertel and Fowler. Good investigative reporting, one thing is one local Private Investigative firm called LOOKOUT PI is trying to serve these guys now and it looks like the once major Federal Investigation into fraud is taking place yesterday afternoon two federal agents interviewed some victims of Hertel and Fowler he told me they expect to have him appear at a Federal Grand Jury to give testimony and it involves Coast National Bank, Bank of America, Affinty Bank, Countrywide, Heritage Oaks Bank and several others over Loan Fraud and Defrauding the USG. Stay on this case it will be Bigger than EFI and Kelly's.

By: hotdog on 12/9/08

Damn, mccdave, I like your style. Right on.

Our dear pals who just lost the election favor welfare for the rich-the poor can go to hell (the lazy bums). I wonder about those subsidies-isn't anyone watching this stuff or did our commander-in-thief set this up for his developer buddies just like he did in Iraq.

Our long nightmare will be over soon, though the crooks and liars have made such a mess of things our incoming good man will have to spend a lot of energy just cleaning up the gack.

By: mccdave on 12/9/08

Is this part of the Margarita Farms development or a different parcel? Hertel did build at least some of the homes in Margarita Farms, including some spec houses that have sat unsold for well over a year.

I'm sure glad part of my paycheck is going to these guys in the form of federal subsidies. By the way, someone ought to do a map of the county with color-coding to show where farm subsidy dollars go. Any bets that the greenest parts of such a map would be up in Reagan Country, north of the Grade, which also has the most recipients of ordinary kinds of welfare? I guess it's not ironic that these same folks voted overwhelmingly for that arch-foe of socialism, Sarah Palin, and her pimp, John McCain. If CalCoastNews gets an interview with any of these guys, question one should be who did they vote for.