U.S. Marshals seize Hertel and Fowler’s yacht, guns, and ammunition
June 1, 2009
By KAREN VELIE
Federal authorities seized bankrupt developers Ronald Hertel and Robert Fowler’s 2005 Bertram yacht including guns and ammunition, and a 1988 Broward yacht under purchase by Hertel earlier this year as part of an ongoing effort to recoup funds the financially troubled developers owe to lenders.
U.S. Marshal Adam Torres acted on a court order requested by City National Bank to pay off a $1.75 million mortgage the bank says Hertel and Fowler owe on the “Dram Buoy,” a Bertram yacht the developers registered in the Cayman Islands. Hertel and Fowler haven’t made monthly payments of $8,333 since November 2008.
The boat was seized in January because of concerns the developers would steer the ship from U.S. waters.
Last month, the bank filed a default judgment against the 67 foot yacht, “together with her boats, guns, ammunition, small arms, and appurtenances…”, according to court documents.
U.S. Marshals also seized the 106 foot “Cajun Princess” to cover debts owed for maritime and unpaid contractor liens of more than $4 million. Hertel was refurbishing the Broward yacht slated to be valued at approximately $14 million after the ship’s remodel, according to court records.
In addition, VFS Financing has filed suit against Hertel and Fowler for a $7.15 million default loan the pair guaranteed personally for the purchase of a business jet. Following their failure to make payments, Hertel and Fowler surrendered the aircraft to VFS Financial. The financier claims they were unable to sell the aircraft which in turn obligates the developers to cover contractual money damages of $3.2 million.
Hertel and Fowler contend that the jet’s value at the time of surrender covered monies owed and the failure to sell is due to inadequate marketing by the lender, according to the developers’ declarations.
Last December, a thousand-acre parcel of the controversial Santa Margarita Ranch and a Pismo Beach proposed development, owned by developer Ronald Hertel, were sold at public auction to help cover debts of $7.6 million owed to Transamerica Financial Life Insurance Co. on the ranch property and $7 million owed to Heritage Oaks Bank for a construction loan on the Pismo Beach property.
Hertel paid $1 million for the Pismo Beach property in 2002. He never started construction of the proposed condos.
In January, a group of three creditors forced Hertel and Fowler’s development company, R.W. Hertel and Sons, into involuntary bankruptcy in an attempt to collect debts of $42,000. Hertel and Fowler failed to show for meetings scheduled by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California in Santa Barbara, according to The Ventura County Star.
These mounting default notices and foreclosures illustrate the financial troubles in which Hertel and his partner 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.