FBI accuses Miller of racketeering and money laundering

May 29, 2009
Jay and Laurel Miller's home is slated to close escrow in the near future

Jay and Laurel Miller's home is slated to close escrow in the near future


The FBI seized proceeds from Hurst Financial Inc. (HFI) President Jay Miller’s home May 27 because of allegations of racketeering, money laundering, and wire fraud, according to the seizure warrant.

“A racket is an illegal business, usually run as part of organized crime. Engaging in racket is called racketeering,” according to Wikipedia.

Earlier today, Superior Court of San Luis Obispo County Judge Roger T. Picquet ordered a temporary restraining order against the proceeds of Miller’s home following a request by HFI investors Murray Powell and David Rios. Last May, Rios and Powell filed an 11 count fraud and civil conspiracy lawsuit against Miller, HFI loan officer Courtney Brard, and North County developer Kelly Gearhart in which they claim the trio bilked them out of their investments.

Following a request from Picquet for an account of the net proceeds of Miller’s Templeton home, the Millers’ attorneys, Robert Grigger Jones and Glen Lewis, sprinted to the title company to inspect escrow records. In the miscellaneous column, directly below a charge of $645 for Al’s Septic, is a Federal Bureau of Investigation seizure warrant debit of $200,462.

The warrant alleges the property faces forfeiture under crimes and criminal procedure U.S. Code “concerning violations of Title 18… (which lists codes for racketeering, money laundering, and wire fraud),” according to the search warrant.

Miller’s 3,031 square foot home on 1015 Herdsman Way in Templeton includes a vineyard consisting of four acres of Merlot and Malbec varietals. It sold for $1.3 million leaving net proceeds of $690,000.

Even so, the court agreed to freeze only $244,757, half of the proceeds remaining after closing costs and federal seizures. The judge agreed that Miller’s wife, Laurel Miller, is entitled to the other half of the proceeds.

In June 2008, at a time Hurst Financial Inc. was in serious financial distress, James and Laurel Miller entered into a postnuptial agreement that granted Laurel half interest in their home. The couple married on Dec. 24, 1996.

The FBI and the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Offices mounted an investigation into fraudulent lending and financial practices by Miller, Brard, and Gearhart last year. At this time, charges have not yet been filed against the trio.

HFI made short-term “bridge” loans to contractors. Investors, during good times, would receive 12 percent on their money in monthly interest payments, with their entire principal returned upon maturation of the loan.

More than 1,200 investors, primarily seniors, invested more than a $100 million that is currently unaccounted for. According to the Department of Real Estate, Miller failed in his contractual agreement to protect investors by funding projects only as work was completed, with progressive payments. Instead, he paid Gearhart in lump sums “without any monitoring of the construction.”

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By: notagoodolboy on 6/25/09

When will the FBI and DRE look into Pea Body and Plum??

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/6/09

On the replies to Who am I. Obviously it was gossip. I think the rest (of the replies) is called sarcasim in case you need it spelled out for you. Just For Your Information. :-O

By: Fedup on 6/6/09

Some people deserve to be hurt no matter what vehicle is used.

It is called pay back.

By: FYI on 6/6/09


By: insider on 6/6/09

FYIwho am I?


By: Truthbeknown on 6/6/09

By: FYI on 6/6/09 asked: “WHO AM I?”

I’ll give it a shot – Booty Juice?

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/6/09

Irony that you mention Kennedy. With all this talk about possible under the table dealings, how about the old man and the making of money off illegal booze during prohibition? Nothing to do with Bobby. Just another point that all kinds of people can have dirt on their hands, when people say it is hard to believe that this or that person could have done something.

By: Clemintine on 6/6/09

Excellent post BeenThere. You have hit the nail right on the head !

By: George on 6/6/09

Does anyone know what today is? Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/6/09

Does anyone know what today is? It is D-day.

On a beach back 65 years ago, many young men fought for our freedom as well as the freedom of Europe.

I find it amazing that while people fought for our freedom’s (one being of free speach) how many here our trying to quelch and take away that right.

People here are sharing ideas that have been present in the Press. Not some neighbors fence or back yard.

I guess if this was 1939 all over again and we talked about the fact that we heard rumor that this German guy named Hitler, was killing people, people here would be screaming for facts, before we can check it out.

If this was the 70’s and the Khmer Rouge and the Killing fields, we wouldn’t have listened to the fact that maybe 2 million innocents are being murdered.

Yes this is an extreme point. The point is, is that we aren’t talking about celebrities here and how much they weigh, or who they are sleeping with. I am not talking about my neighbors personal life.

We are talking about possible crimes that may have been committed. I can’t believe how some don’t get that. I am not talking about who Kelly, Jay or any others are sleeping with. I don’t give a shit!

This changes thou when someone has reached into my pocket and STOLE money from me, my family and others. I have been robbed. Gee I thought that was a CRIME. So yes I am going to talk about it. I won’t be silenced and stick my head in the sand or up someplace else.

I will scream for justice, because when no one screams for justice from the small things, the powers that be get emboldend, that there is no law that applies to them.

Just look how Hitler started small and changed laws to give him absolute power.

Yes again it is a streach but I figure some people just don’t get it.

By: FYI on 6/6/09


I have no respect for justice.

I maim without killing.

I break hearts and ruin lives.

I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.

The more I am quoted the more I am believed.

I flourish at every level of society.

My victims are helpless; they cannot protect

themselves against me because I have no name and no face.

To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become.

I am nobody’s friend.

Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.

I topple governments and ruin marriages.

I end ministries set up by God.

I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartache and indigestion.

I spawn suspicion and generate grief.

I make headlines, headaches and heartaches

I make innocent people cry in their pillows.

Even my name hisses.

—Author unknown

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/5/09

I think I have a new name for our illustreous poster. Forrest Gump. You know stupid is as stupid does.

I have noticed before that when anybody can’t debate, make an arguement or good point, or have nothing of any importance to say, they will repeat the same ol thing again and again. Must be from being in one place to long.

Bottom line like MikeB said, is that it does take time. Oh and by the way I am on the other side of the political spectrum from Mike but I agree whole heartly on this with him.

I will even go a step further. If one year from today no charges have been brought against either Kelly or Jay I will post I was wrong. How about you Forrest?

By: MikeB on 6/5/09


Quit bagging on newcomers …. you were one once, right? … or maybe your folks were newcomers once, right?

You suggest that the players in this news article are innocent because they are not yet in jail. Your seem very protective of Gearhart et al.

I suspect you don’t understand the nature and complexity of investigating white collar crime.

Take Illinois Governor Blagojevich for example. The Feds took 4 years to make an arrest. Why you ask? Because they wanted to make sure they had a sound case, because white collar criminals often have the resources to hire the best of attorneys to try and find “wiggle room”.

Here on the Central Coast our local FBI agents are top notch and I firmly believe they are tracking every spider web to its source.

Justice will prevail.


By: Lifelongatasresident on 6/5/09

By the way O.J.was always guilty and now he is in prison where he belongs.

By: Lifelongatasresident on 6/5/09

All im saying if you people think they are so guilty, then why arent they in jail with Karen Guth. Think about it! As far as being dragged here against your will thats your prob. It seems to me you really don’t like it here anyways. So why you here? Just curious. I think this hipe about it being a good ol boy city is a bunch of crap. Anywas again wheres the proof?

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/5/09

Uh oh. I came here when I was under 18 with my folks against my will. Maybe I should sue them??

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/5/09

Oh by the way some people should learn how to read. If they had read my other posts, I do mention that I have talked to the F.B.I. and they ARE INVESTIGATING. So I ask where is your proff they didn’t? Hell you probably still think O.J. is innocent. Crack a newspaper or magazine and learn to voice better opinion’s and not be Johnny one note.

Oh one last, I guess seeing most of us are all from other countries we, as you, should all leave unless you are Native American, according to your thesis.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/5/09

Boy somebody forgot their Thorizine today.

By: Clemintine on 6/5/09

Ignorance is bliss isnt it LifeLong?

By: Lifelongatasresident on 6/5/09

WOW, you newcomers are funny and eys 30 years is still a newcomer. Anyways, If the people here are so bad, why did you move here. Hmmmm, again, all gossip, if you new bois got proof lets get it out there. Don’t you think if the FBI had proof of the ilk you bois keep spreading, the lot would be in jail? HMMMM, get proof are keep it to your self. Have a great day!

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/5/09

I see in this mornings Trib. that a Paso judge yesterday froze additional funds. So for the moment all Jay’s money is froze and Laurel’s is available at $69,000.


Truth be known is having, what us good old boys call, a “hissy fit”!! Keep on him Booty – it makes for good conversation….

By: Clemintine on 6/4/09

Truthbeknown writes to Booty:

“Please come up to Atascadero. I know some boys who would love to make your acquaintance!”

Wow the good old boy is threatening a little old fashion vigilantism. You must be getting under his skin Booty … keep it up

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/4/09

While I do agree Atascadero has its problems, (most cities do) I wouldn’t write them all off as a piece of crap. That is painting with a pretty board brush. There are also just as many good people in Atascadero.

By: Truthbeknown on 6/3/09


Please come up to Atascadero. I know some boys who would love to make your acquaintance!

By: Booty_Juice on 6/3/09

Facts? Here are some facts:

1.) Atrashcadero has been ground zero for hatching hillbilly dreams for as long as anyone can remember.

2.) Anyone who gives a nickel to an Atascabaman is a righteous fool. The only thing they love more than stealing from each other is stealing from an outsider. It is a badge of honor. Understand?

3.) Atrashcadero “rising from the ashes like a Phoenix” is beyond delusional as there never was any Phoenix to begin with. As a matter of fact, as fetid and stinking as it is now, it is still a damn sight better than it has ever been what with the new Tastee Freez and all.

4.) Public and police corruption is rampant. So prevalent in fact that even the odd honest public official is completely powerless to do anything about it.

5.) If you think that you can move to that bog hole and change things for the better, think again.

6.) If you think you can “invest” with any of those sister shagging pikey’s and come out ahead, think again.

7.) Whatever money is returned to this latest crop of suckers will be a tiny, miniscule fraction of the, what, $100 million that’s been conned from all manner of punters that should have known better.

8.) If a couple of them boys eventually does some jail time, that’s not really a problem for them or their kin.

9.) All of the above is common knowledge, a given, to anyone who has lived here any length of time.

10.) The sooner HIV gets the lot of them, the better.

By: Clemintine on 6/3/09

Lifelongatasresident writes:

“I see no facts here at all about any of this, its all gossip, and half truths.”

and “lets keep our thoughts to ourselves.”

Talk about protecting the staus quo … Im sure those who have acted illegally would love everyone to keep there thoughts to themselves.

With Lifelongatasresident’s mindset no wonder Atascadero has been circling the drain for all these years.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/3/09

Thanks. I am involved in this. Have lost money in this and do know most all of the parties involved. I too have been around this county for 30 years. So till George decides I have run afoul of something, I for one will share what is my opinion that I think, I, as others, are entitled to.

Isn’t that why that button that I push to submit says Post Opinion. I don’t think it said Post Fact?

By: Lifelongatasresident on 6/3/09

I agree and apologize, you are right. So lets focus on facts as you say. I see no facts here at all about any of this, its all gossip, and half truths.Unless you are really invloved with this and have an investment in this or know ALL parties involved, weather it be McKinney, Miller, Graves, Machado, Shores, Lerno, then lets keep our thoughts to ourselves. Anything else is Gossip.

By: George on 6/3/09

let us have a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the

issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.(trollish comments removed)

By: Fedup on 6/3/09

To: Lifelongatasresident

If they go back to where they came from how are all your crooked developer friends (Kelly Gearhart, David Geaves, Fred Machado, the Shores brothers, etc.) going to find buyers for all their sub standard houses.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 6/3/09

This mornings Trib. finally checked in this morning on this, FIVE DAYS LATER.

It is on the front page of the Local section. Of course they mention everything the same, exept the racketeering. They went out of their way not to mention it.

The Trib is getting to be a joke in running behind the curve.

By: Clemintine on 6/3/09

Sounds like your the one slinging the mud LifeLong. Blaming people who relocated to A Town and stating “as Gearhart is concerned he tried to do the best eh could and met with nothing but crap from the no growthers”

You gots ta be kidding right?

It’s this type of good old boy thinking that holds Atascadero back. Atascadero won’t progress until backwoods thinking like this has passed on.

By: Lifelongatasresident on 6/3/09

Well, first let me respond by saying that I have been in business personally here in Atascadero for many many years, and never has anyone ever approched me about bribes or paying them off as you newcomers have alleged. I have delt with Wade McKinney, the city councel, planning dept, etc. and NEVER found anything out of the ordinary. You people moved here to a growing city, and you wanted the doors closed the day you got here. It’s not going to happen. You people wanted to stop Atasacdero’s growth and “keep it the way it was when you got here” not going to happen. The growth here has been constant since I E.G Lewis put the first shovel in the ground. Get over it.

As for Brennler, his record speaks for it self. As far as Gearhart is concerned he tried to do the best eh could and met with nothing but crap from the no growthers, by the way im NO friend of Gearhearts, I lost a ton of money with Hurst myself. As far as them all going to jail, I prefer to let the courts figure it out and STOP slinging mud, all you people are doing is stirring up people and causing more trouble. Like I said I lost a ton of money in this yet im taking the high road on this.