Weyrich belly up, money woes widening
February 26, 2009
By KAREN VELIE
In yet another sign of mounting unpaid debts for Paso Robles businessman David Weyrich and his wife, Mary Weyrich, a local lender filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that the Weyrichs failed to pay back a more than $1 million loan.
“Unfortunately, The Weyrichs owe me and my partner, Jim Smith, over $1.6 million in different promissory notes,” said San Luis Obispo businessman Cliff Branch. “To date, the Weyrichs have not paid us back a penny. David and Mary gave us their personal guarantee, but apparently that does not count for much.”
Weyrich defaulted on three short-term business loans last fall that totaled $1.6 million. Weyrich offered his three billboards in the Atascadero area as collateral for one of the loans, the subject of the lawsuit, according to court documents.
“We have been trying to work something out with the Weyrichs for several months to help them; they can’t seem to keep any of the promises they have made to us,” Branch added. “They have yet to even sign over the titles in the securities they promised to us.”
Numerous lawsuits have been filed against Weyrich during the past few years that allege he has failed to pay his debts. Though he owns a large number of properties in the county, it appears – according to property profile reports — most are over-encumbered.
Even so, Weyrich is reported to have had more than $140 million in assets in 2002. By 2007, that number had shrunk to less than $70 million.
Weyrich did not respond to repeated request for comment.
During the past year, government agencies, lenders, vendors, and private citizens have filed tax liens, notices of default, mechanics liens, and judgments against the Weyrichs and their business holdings, according to county clerk-recorder records.
Weyrich got his investment capital in 1998 when he sold Martin Media for $610 million, a company previously owned by his father-in-law Edward Martin. The proceeds were divided up between family members and investors.
During the past 10 years, Weyrich dabbled in a number of risky business ventures including newspapers, the development business, wine making, hotels, and jet leasing.
In 1999, the Weyrichs founded the now-defunct Gazette Newspaper chain, an enterprise of five weekly publications that were mailed to everyone in San Luis Obispo County.
A year later, a group of 12 reporters, editors, and one publisher dissolved their bonds with the fledgling paper after discovering Weyrich was using the news outlet to promote and advocate anti-gay and ant-abortion sentiments. Long-time journalists — used to having a wall between editorial content and management– refused to break long-standing journalistic rules of ethics.
Around the same time Weyrich invested in the Carlton Hotel. The project is reported to have cost more than $20 million. Sources say it recently fell out of an $11 million escrow.
Weyrich lives on a huge estate. He has purchased million of dollars in property, jet aircrafts, and a yacht.
Nevertheless, Weyrich is behind on payments or has failed to satisfy his debts to more than 150 agencies, lenders, vendors, and individuals, according to sources.
Weyrich owes North County Watch $137,500 for a 2002 court ordered settlement. Volunteers spent years getting the first $40,500.
“We were told he has no money only property,” said North County Watch President Sue Harvey. “He just doesn’t like to pay money he owes.”