Investor funds diverted to build go-cart track
August 24, 2009
By KAREN VELIE
A North County developer financed a go-cart track at his Templeton home by having the asphalt contractor change the work address so it would be covered by a group of Real Property Lenders’ (RPL) project investors, according to the contractor who did the work.
In 2005, Tony Gaspar contracted with Clint Osborne to do $39,873 worth of grading and paving work at his home on Climbing Tree Lane in Templeton. The five and a half acre estate includes tennis courts, a go-cart track, two fire pits, a custom pool with fountains, a separate guest house, and other amenities.
Gaspar failed to pay Osborne for the work on his house, but offered to disburse $15,000 from RPL construction loans if Osborne would replace the invoice with one that claimed the work had been done at a Gaspar proposed development on Ranchita Canyon Road. He sent Osborne four checks for $3,750 on Nov. 6, 2005, according to the receipts.
In January 2006, Osborne installed culverts and graded road extensions at Gaspar’s RPL funded Forked Horn development. Two of the invoices he submitted to Gaspar were legitimate. However, the third invoice for $24,873 was paid to cover the remainder of monies Gaspar owed Osborne for his back yard go-cart track.
“He asked me to bill the work to another property,” said Osborne of Clint Osborne Grading and Paving. “I thought he was cheating on his taxes.”
The torturous path of monies invested in one of the lots billed for Gaspar’s track provides some transparency into RPL’s hard money lending practices, which have already cost hundreds of local seniors’ portions of their retirement funds.
In February 2006, RPL solicited and collected investments from 12 individuals for a proposed single family residence on Reindeer Place, part of the Forked Horn development. Though the loan was slated to mature a year later, Gaspar failed to begin construction.
RPL continued to entice investors to invest in the property and used those funds to cover interest on the previous loan in an apparent Ponzi scheme, according to RPL financial disbursement records.
In June 2007, Gaspar stopped paying interest on the loan. Upon discovering Gaspar had not yet broken ground on the project, a group of investors filed an action that resulted in a judgment against the developer.
Gaspar and his wife, Sue Gaspar, filed a bankruptcy petition on Nov. 17, 2008, stating more than $3 million in estimated debts which froze the investors’ judgment.
Gaspar’s debts include $62,746 owed to Osborne, $1.1 million owed to San Luis Trust Bank, $145,000 owed to Heritage Oaks Bank, and $60,722 owed to Filipponi and Thompson Drilling.
In July, Gaspar filed a claim against the investors stating they had not fully funded his loan. In addition to billing for construction draws on a project that was never started, Gaspar’s loan statement charges investors $145,341 for the one acre parcel. The current value of the lot, according to a local broker, is between $60,000 and $100,000.
Between 2004 and 2007, Gaspar transferred the land five times between different Gaspar holdings and family members. In 2005, Gaspar Inc. lent Gaspar Development Inc. $4.57 million on the undivided tract of land, almost twice what he had paid for the property a year earlier.
A few months later, RPL began dolling out construction loans on 14 of the property’s one-acre lots.
RPL enticed more than 300 investors to fund $55 million in hard money construction loans. The California Department of Real Estate filed an accusation against the lender in May that states RPL principals Rodney Jarmin and Tammy Jordan lending practices included “substantial misrepresentations, fraud, and dishonest dealings.”
Don Fransen, an 80-year-old former regional sales manager for Quaker State Oil invested in several RPL projects including the lot at 5980 Reindeer Place. He doesn’t expect to get his investments back during his lifetime.
“We are now living month-to-month,” Fransen said. “Maybe the kids will be lucky and will be able to cash some of these through.”
Gaspar did not return calls seeking comment.