Guth, Yaguda still stewing; more arrests hinted
January 30, 2009
By KAREN VELIE
Prosecutors and defense attorneys today asked a judge to postpone arraignment and bail hearing for Estate Financial Inc. principles Karen Guth and Joshua Yaguda for the fourth time. San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge JacCrawford agreed to continue the arraignment of Estate Financial Inc.principles on 26 felony charges to February 20.
Then Deputy District Attorney Steve von Dohlen alluded to the possibility of additional charges being made against the EFI pair, as well as the prospect of additional parties being arrested.
Attorneys on both sides requested more time to put their cases together and to find out which allegations they agree on and which charges they plan to “fight over.”
Judge Crawford asked what would happen if they were to proceed on with the arraignment.
“It would be a logistic nightmare for both parties,” von Dohlen said. “We are finding more victims and strengthening our case.”
Enticed by the promise of 12 percent interest on property-secured investments, approximately 3,400 investors have entrusted their nest eggs with Guth and Yaguda. Estate Financial’s portfolio contained more than $317 million in monies owed to investors when the company filed bankruptcy last summer. Of that, only $21,000 remained unencumbered.
“It was way back before we knew about the huge scope of this case,” von Dohlen said in response to a question of why the pair is charged with $13 million in losses due to fraud. “If I knew then what I know now.”
In October, the court added a white collar crime enhancement to Guth and Yaguda’s charges, which placed their personal belongings, property, vehicles, and other items under court jurisdiction.
Judge Crawford said the status of Guth and Yaguda’s property was his concern. He asked von Dohlen how the district attorney’s office was moving forward on liquidating the mother and son’s assets.
The prosecutor said that Guth and Yaguda’s assets had been identified – Chevron gas stations in Templeton and Morro Bay, an office building on Ninth Street in Paso Robles, their Pasolivio olive ranch, a hotel in Morro Bay, and a beach home in Cayucos – and that that they were in the process of liquidating and turning the properties into cash. Even so, most of the properties are over-encumbered and as such hold very little value to investors looking for compensation for their losses, von Dohlen said.
Guth, 65, and Yaguda, 40, were arrested October 16 by a multi-agency task force at their Pasolivo olive ranch. They face 26 fraud charges, and both remain in San Luis Obispo County Jail pending $5 million bail each.
“We expect no change in custody,” von Dohlen added.