Estate Financial principals plead guilty to all charges

October 5, 2009


The North County mother-and-son team who ran Estate Financial Inc. have been convicted of fraudulently selling securities without the proper licenses, lying to investors, and stealing or destroying property worth $3.2 million.

Estate Financial owners Karen Guth and her son, Joshua Yaguda, pleaded guilty today in the San Luis Obispo Superior Court to 26 felony counts and five enhancements.

They are to be sentenced Dec. 7 by Judge Jac Crawford.

On Sept. 24, Crawford offered Guth and Yaguda an agreement that stipulated that Guth accept a sentence of 12 years in state prison and Yaguda agree to a sentence of 8 years in state prison in exchange for pleading guilty to all counts and agreeing not to appeal.

“We received an offer from the court,” Steven Smith, Guth’s attorney, said. “It is good and fair.”

The guilty pea is conditional on the sentencing agreement being followed.

In court, San Luis Obispo Deputy Dist. Atty. Steve von Dohlen argued that the proposed sentences should be longer.

“It is the people’s opinion that it is not sufficient time,” von Dohlen said. “Hopefully we can persuade the court to add additional time.”

However, it appeared that the judge will reject the prosecutor’s arguments for more prison time for the pair.

Seven of the company’s investors asked the judge to hand down a stiffer sentence. They described health problems, sleepless nights, and financial distress as a result of the pair’s illicit schemes. One investor said the pair had threatened her if she spoke out about their financial misdeeds.

Yaguda, 49, could be released after serving another three years and two months in state prison. Guth, 65, considered to be the primary owner and operator of the failed investment firm, faces an additional five years and two months of incarceration if conditionally released early.

Enticed by the promise of generous returns on property-secured investments, approximately 3,400 investors entrusted their nest eggs with EFI. In July 2008, EFI’s portfolio contained more than $317 million in monies owed to investors, though less than $25,000 remained unencumbered.

Guth and Yaguda were arrested Oct. 16 by a joint task force including agents from the state departments of Corporations and Real Estate, the district attorneys office, the IRS, and the FBI. They currently remain in jail awaiting sentencing with bail set at $5 million each.



One Comment

  1. ccn_debate says:

    Member Opinions:
    By: cheseburger on 10/18/09
    Seems topic is Gearhart now, BTDT said it best right there, bad, bad breath. I doubt Gearhart will ever be punished,FBI,said March 2008, quote,
    “YOU CAN,T ACCUSE A MAN LIKE KELLY GEARHART” Me,” Why Not” FBI said,” BECAUSE HE IS FAR TO WEALTHY”. SORRY FBI, BUT THOSE WERE YOUR EXACT WORDS AND YOU KNOW IT! IF YOU HAD RESPONDED LIKE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO, WHEN YOU WERE CONTACTED BY ME, WE ALL MIGHT BE BETTER OFF.Of course you’re salary is payed by the $200,000 of investor money you confiscated just like that. Who cares how many people get screwed as long as the FBI’s budget is balanced right!

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/8/09
    Another point on the Kelly BK. Paper says today, that now he has 65 mill. in debt and 13 mill. in assets. I like that now (after he has lied in past) the asset number starts to go up. Hmm. Guess he figured it wasn’t as easy as he thought hiding all the booty?? Better claim it??

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/7/09
    No I don’t think the BK will get him off. I have heard that they want to get past this first, before the proceed on other fronts. So hopefully, maybe, we will start to see some more progress soon.

    Besides he lied on the BK with hiding assets. As I said before, on the cover letter I got on the BK, it states with his signature, that you agree all of the filing is true under penelty of perjury of fine and possible 5 years.

    By my count they have him three times so far on this alone. Then throw in what started this whole mess!

    By: Cindy on 10/7/09
    I can’t imagine that they won’t get Gearhart.
    He was in collusion with Melanie Schnieder from Cuesta Title. He actually defrauded local banks by presenting clear trust deeds that were in fact heavily leveraged. A BK won’t get him out of that one. Never fear BTDT & cheseburger, they’ll get em.. IMO

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/7/09
    I know that the first phase on the bankruptcy and some of the money they recovered (not much) closes on the filing period, on the 19th of this month.

    By: DashRiprock on 10/7/09
    are they ever going to come down on gearhart?

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/6/09
    Will they charge him with a crime? God I hope so.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/6/09
    Also saw it here (CCN)first.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/6/09
    Yea saw the story at the time thanks. They seized proceeds. Did they charge him with a crime?? NO.

    By: insider on 10/6/09
    Here’s the lead line on the story that was in the TT.

    “The FBI has issued a seizure warrant for the Templeton home of James “Jay” Hurst Miller, president of the now-defunct Atascadero hard money lending company Hurst Financial.

    The move came less than two days before Miller and his wife, Laurel Miller, were to sell the family home for $1.3 million.

    The FBI says it is seeking up to $200,462 in proceeds from the sale of the house because of allegations against the seller, listed as Laurel G. Miller Family Trust, that… ”

    Published on 2009-06-03, Page B1, Tribune, The (San Luis Obispo, CA)

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/6/09
    Oh and on the federal prosecutor what has Jay been charged with? I haven’t seen one charge yet. They are investigating but I haven’t seen charges yet.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/6/09
    Guess you missed the point. The crimes I stated usually affect a few. This crime has affected MANY. It has RUINED lifes. If you give them 12 and 8 respectively and they are out in 4 and 5 years what message do you send the next guy? He figures it might be worth the risk. Heck he may even get away with it. If you don’t prosecuted one now you will prosecuted MANY later and at what cost do you think that will all cost??
    Bet a whole hell of a lot more for many than one case now.

    By: insider on 10/6/09
    Of course the county wants to settle this due to money. This thing would cost the county a small fortune to prosecute and then defend the appeals. Josh and Karen know it and so do their attorneys. I’m sure at this point even the board of Sups. is asking were the back door is. Murder, rape, molestation the cost of those trials pale in comparison to what this would cost the taxpayers of this county. As to double jeopardy. Different charges, different venue. They could go right from state prison to federal prison if say they had evaded taxes or say had dealings over state lines. Who knows what a federal prosecuter could come up with. Just ask Jay Miller.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/6/09
    On not prosecuting this because it costs a lot of money. You know that it costs lots of money prosecuting child molesters, murders, rapists, etc. Then to house them all cost lots of money. So should we just abandon all of our laws and civil society because it cost a lot of money???

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/6/09
    Cindy. OOPS

    Yea I was in a hurry posting on way to meet someone. Should have been Double Jeopardy, not indemnity. That was stupid. ;-)

    By: Nameless on 10/6/09
    Does anyone believe Yaguda’s wife is hiding something? Guth’s X-husband? Her former attorney Rodewald? Her CPA? Who else maybe hiding assets for them? What involvement x-employees have? These are important questions that must be addressed. Would the FBI be looking into these? Lets see what comes next!

    By: cheseburger on 10/6/09
    Oh, well you may be right but I’d still like to see some heads roll and don’t worry I’m just a fiction writer for illiterate inmates it’s the only way you can keep there interest, graphic violence, hope fully, the next batch of thieves will get to read my material longer that’s all, and I do respect your opinion and your probably a good friend of mine too. I read some of my posts, I’m not crazy yet, so nobody needs to panic and call homeland security on me that’s all I need.

    By: Cindy on 10/6/09
    RIGHT ON cheseburger.

    By: cheseburger on 10/6/09
    obama! you crack me up, what is this a joke on being a democrat, just be friends? Sorry I don’t want to be friends with the devil. And when I see the real Obama I ganna tell him of your discernment, to his good name. The rest of the pack, I’m sure does not share your views, we will see.

    By: cheseburger on 10/6/09
    Are the wheels of justice turning backward, what about the pornography cop, he’s is almost dead, dropped on his head, gets I think 10 years? I hate child molesters as much as the next person, but Guth and Yudda just screwed a lot more children then the pervert cop ever did, my point, where is the balance of sentencing matching the crimes committed. Every sentence should fit the crime, we should contact the Movie Star, elected by the people and demand that he intersect this judgment by the court. If he won’t do that will get him drunk and tell him to do a scene from Conan, or terminator in the SLO courthouse. If he won’t do that maybe he could just fire a few people? If we went on the Opra show, we would get more results?

    By: Cindy on 10/6/09
    BTDT – “Double Indemnity”, :) Thats OK, I know what you mean!

    By: pgillis on 10/6/09
    Cindy: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    In fact it was testified to by Sigma Chi brother NIck Potter that Sigma Chi had been mixing GHB and gatorade together for 2 years prior to Brian’s death, storing in their refrigerator and calling it “faderade”. Call Commander Bill Watton of the Cal Poly police and see what he tells you about Sigma Chi, if he will. He told us that he reported to Shea’s office on 2 separate occasions that Sigma Chi was committing gang like activity the school year before Brian’s death, and Shea’s office would do nothing. That’s all for now.

    The Gillis Family

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/6/09
    Couple comments about getting the Fed. involved or the F.B.I. Well they better hurry before they find them guilty and finish this. Then to late. It would be Double Indemnity.

    By: Cindy on 10/6/09
    Looks like there have been a whole lot of blunders at the DAs office.
    I just spoke with someone who has a great deal of knowledge regarding the death of Brian Gillis. It sounds like this case might be “on topic”. I’m told that there is evidence (taken from depositions) that Brian was given GHB without his knowledge and that this is actually a murder case that was swept under the rug and that DA Shae’s office say’s it’s man slaughter at best and that the statue of limitations has run out. I have never been aware that there was evidence indicating that Brian didn’t willingly take the GHB himself, but I trust the opinion of the person I spoke to. This does look like a cover up, my apologies to the Gillis family for not believing you. It’s incomprehensible to think that someone would spike a persons drink with a dangerous drug but I’m told it happens frequently at the frat houses. I’m not naive and I know the drug is used for date rape but that is done by people who are criminal in nature to begin with. I never thought college kids would consider it a “game” to drug their friends. How awful. This should be looked into further to see if their is enough evidence to charge this as a murder. Poisoning someone sounds like a murder to me, even if you didn’t ever intend to kill the person.

    By: mcdonald on 10/6/09
    NanciMeek & Cindy, Yah never known. There could be some EFI money in the Pi Ji Ho Ta LLC. Not that Gerry Shea will ever find it.

    By: Cindy on 10/6/09
    Hahahh Nanci, I think Grigger managed to steer clear of the EFI ponzi, he was too busy involving himself with the Gearhart, Miller scam that bilked so many people out of their life savings. I’m glad the feds have that one, I sure hope they don’t drop the case on Shae’s desk. Shae has been working on this case for a year and originally said that his investigation would bring more charges and that other people would probably be arrested. The exact same 26 original charges that were handed to Shae by the DRE, FBI etc are still all that they are being charged with. He has not added one additional charge and completely ignored the ponzi. He is worthless, he is worse than worthless. What ever happened to his investigation, was he too lazy to do one or is he too inept to apply the law? I know he agrees with Lisa Solomon’s bogus interpretation of the law despite the AG stating otherwise.

    By: Nancimeek on 10/6/09
    Was Robert Grigger Jones involved in this too?

    By: Jim on 10/6/09
    I would like to see them change their plea back to innocent, and if convicted see them get the 34 years and four months maximum sentence allowable by law. To date, they have shown no remorse. To date, they have refused to cooperate with the trustees handling the bankruptcy. To date, they have refused to disclose hidden assets ($$$). Whether or not they remain incarcerated, they are not going to help investors recoup any of their $$$!
    When I was first contacted by the FBI I was told that while they could not help me get my $$$ back, they were in the punishment business. With such a light sentence, perhaps this is more of the “slap on the hand” business.
    Or, I could be wrong, and the FBI is monitoring all of this.

    By: Cindy on 10/6/09
    Yes, I agree that Shae is in over his head. I am confused about the fact that the prosecution is asking the judge for more time than the 8 and 12 years which means that the defense made an agreement with the judge and not the prosecution? How does that work?

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/6/09
    To play devils advocate for a moment. Is it that Shae is possibly crooked or is it possible that he is just in over his head.

    I for one have found it in my opinion to be the later. I think he just doesn’t know how to handle such a deep running problem as this in the county. Such as what laws have been broken etc. Meaning that you have real estate laws, financial laws etc. that may have been broken but he may not have the expertize in this area.

    We have SO many laws, in this country does anybody really know all of them? We all know you don’t steal, don’t kill, etc. but when you get into people that can subvert the laws by finding the small loopoles in it (i.e. Gearhart, Miller, etc.) it can get so deep and convoluted that it can go unnoticed by many. Hence why they can go for so long undetected.

    So it goes back to, is it possible that Shae is just in over his head??

    Not trying to defend him or the others (just read my other posts) just a thought.

    By: grannienell on 10/6/09
    I too am angry and saddend by what appears to be the outcome of this entire mess. Although my husband and I were not large investors, my husband was employed by Templeton Products, (owned by Estate Financial) and due to the seizure of assetts lost his job. We are not young people. We are not wealthy people. But! We are people who, along with some 15 other unsuspecting employees, were robbed of our livelyhoods, by the evil deeds of Guth, and Yaguda. One young man, and employee of “Templeton Products,” was expecting his second child when the ceiling fell in on all of us.
    I too think this plea agreement is a travesty! I agree. Where is are the feds? Many of the original charges were federal crimes, and so, should be delt with in federal court!
    Mr. Madoff got 150 years! Although Guth’s ponzie scheme was on a much smaller scale, (millions instead of billions) at the most basic interpretation of the law, it is the SAME CRIME. Do the investors of Estate Financial not at least get the smallest bit of satifaction knowing Guth and Yaguda are behind bars for a very long time. Is it because “EFI” investors are not the rich and famous? I would hope not, but as I watched the news last night, and reread the articles regarding their “guilty” pleas, I have to ask myself, “If David Letterman had been affected by these crimes, would EFI’s investors be counting down the 150 years sentences as Letterman does every night on his show?” I wonder. . . .

    By: Cindy on 10/6/09
    Why can’t we make this a federal issue? It’s the feds that are doing the rest of the investigations. Lets just transfer this mess out of SLO county and let the feds exact some justice for us in LA. I agree that Shae is a poor excuse for a DA. He has been in the news quite a bit lately and none of it is any good. I filed a complaint with the Department of Justice and got a letter back from them. The “gist” of the letter basically says that Shae is elected and leaves one to deduce that if we don’t like him then we should vote him out. Bottom line is that the AG isn’t going to anything about Shae, Solomon and Mulhall and the friendly little circle they created to cover each others back sides.
    Regarding the “Ken Freitas case and the death of Sarah Scruggs”, I remember it well, it was all about protecting the Good Ole Boy’s, boy. One thing is for certain, its time to vote Shae out. I don’t think he’s had anybody running against him in the last few elections? We need an honest man/woman with a backbone to step up and take that office over.

    By: rogerfreberg on 10/6/09

    I think it was Filch is the second Harry Potter movie who screamed when he found that his cat had been petrified: “I want to see some JUSTICE!”

    Well, welcome to San Luis Obispo County.

    By the way, why is this a local issue and not a federal issue again?

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/6/09
    I read in the Trib. this morning (late as usual) that Guth and unGuth (yes spelling is uncouth) CAN remove their plea if they don’t get the 12 and 8 years respectively. Then it goes to Dec. 7 and continues from where it is at now if they don’t accept.

    I bet that they had to figure the D.A. will baulk and this will be nothing more than a delay tactic.

    Think about this. The longer they stay in county it will be time served towards whatever prison sentence they get. So the longer they stay at county, they don’t have to do as much REAL time in prison.

    To bad the investors don’t have some money left, to pay someone in prison to make Yagada his bitch.

    By: insider on 10/6/09
    Ask Al Capone.

    By: JorgeEstrada on 10/6/09
    Federal Justice seems to be overdue but I think they are on their way. Don’t change the channel….

    By: insider on 10/6/09
    Maybe its time for a little FEDERAL JUSTICE.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/6/09
    So who are you implying paid off the D.A. in this case??? Guth??

    By: pgillis on 10/6/09
    Do all of you remember the Ken Freitas case and the death of Sarah Scruggs? We do. Payoff to D.A.Shea. Definitely. He is an evil man.

    The Gillis Family

    By: LensCleaner on 10/5/09
    I have watched this story unfold and remember when the DA Office suggested that the investigation was continuing and that more charges and arrests were probable.

    What happened to the “ponzi” aspect of this matter????

    Now the truth is becoming apparent. The DA grabbed Guth and Yaguda early for headlines and little, or no investigation followed. Had the investigation been done properly then other dishonest players would have been caught as well, and perhaps they would have been prosecuted.

    Who knows maybe these other playes were a little too close to the DA Shea and Judge Jac?

    This was all done to exemplify and protect DA Jerry Shea and his record …. and all the while the little guy has been bent over.

    If Judge Crawford is reading this post …. I hope you do the right thing … You are a Republican right? Your supposed to be tough on crime right? We will see!!!

    By: sunshine on 10/5/09
    Is it Judge Charles Crandall or Judge Jack Crawford? The article says Charles Crawford.

    By: cheseburger on 10/5/09
    Cindy just went back to this article after posting on their previous, here it is in a nut shell, PAYOFF, farce, joke, the only thing at all pleasing to know is this piece of crap D.A. doesn’t get to prosecute the Hurst, Jones Miller gang, all that time served they had plenty of money hidden and plenty of time to get to the presiding judge, what say the wolf pack, chomp, chomp.

    By: Cindy on 10/5/09
    Oh Geeez, I can’t believe this. I’m not sure what cheseburger is going to say but I think I might agree with him/her (probably a him:)) under the circumstances. Yes I’m kidding but come on for cripe sakes, lets get some JUSTICE.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/5/09
    This reminds me of Madoff. I remember seeing a guy on the news that was 90 years old and had to go back to work. His savings were GONE. That was the extreme but there are many in their 70’s same situation.

    HUNDREDS of peoples lives interrupted by these two and the judge figures it is justice to give them this sentence so we can all move on??

    This is a travisty of justice. I hope the judges karma comes back and bites him in the a** BIG TIME.

    Maybe California will go broke and he won’t get his nice fat pension. Bet he would want justice then!!!

    By: DashRiprock on 10/5/09
    wow, talk about skating….for what they did and the familys that have suffered because of it this is an insult

    By: Jim on 10/5/09
    This is not justice… this is a mockery of justice…! The judge should be ashamed of himself…!

    By: Al on 10/5/09
    What a glove slap… I suppose they get credit for time spent also! Bad precedent being set.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 10/5/09
    Well just like I posted on the other story about this. Less than four for Yaguda and five for Guth is possible.


    This Judge has his head so far up his a** that he can smell his own bad breath!!!

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