Pasolivo: The olive ranch the investors built
October 25, 2009
Editor’s note: This is Part One in a series examining how Pasolivo olive ranch was funded and how today it is being managed by Joeli Yaguda under the direction of the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s office.
By KAREN VELIE
A Paso Robles investment company funded the construction of an area olive ranch and an accompanying private residence by having the contractors change the address so it would be illegally covered by investments in Estate Financial Inc. (EFI), according to one of the contractors who did the work.
Charlie Applebaum, the ex-husband and former business partner of EFI president Karen Guth, is accused of asking sub-contractors to bill an estimated $1-million in construction costs of the Pasolivo Olive ranch and his former residence to projects funded by EFI.
Kevin Fuson, the ex-contractor who worked on the olive ranch project, said he was working for EFI building spec homes in Paso Robles when Applebaum hired him to frame and do concrete work at the Pasolivo Olive Ranch and the home. Applebaum asked Fuson to change the work addresses so the work would be charged off as construction done on homes EFI was financing in Wellsona Acres on the north side of Paso Robles, Fuson said.
The ranch and former Guth Applebaum residence are located west of town, in the Paso Robles wine region.
“Charlie told me to come see him before I made out the invoices,” Fuson said. “The money for Pasolivo came from Estate Financial properties.”
Utilizing a number of hard-money lending strategies, EFI principals enticed more than 3,000 investors to place more than $300 million into EFI construction projects. Guth and Joshua Yaguda, through investment contracts and marketing pamphlets, assured investors their monies would be used for the projects they invested in.
However, for years, numerous sources have alleged that Guth, Applebaum, and Guth’s son, Joshua Yaguda, used funds slated for project construction to pay for outside business interests they operated while at the helm of EFI. Joshua Yaguda’s wife, Joeli Yaguda, is currently managing the ranch at the direction of the district attorney’s office.
“That man (Applebaum) is a crook,” Fuson said. “He started the whole ball rolling.”
EFI principals Guth and Joshua Yaguda plead guilty earlier this month to 26 felony counts for fraudulently selling securities and running a Ponzi scheme. Applebaum and Guth purchased the Paso Robles lending company in 1994 and divorced in 2004. Applebaum currently lives in Washington state
After an investor informed the district attorney’s office of the alleged phony invoices, San Luis Obispo Deputy Dist. Atty. Steve von Dohlen left a message on Fuson’s answering machine asking for more information. Fuson said he returned the call in July, but didn’t hear back.
“I don’t know if he ever called me back,” Von Dohlen said.
“Any allegations of fraud will be looked at. We are continuing to investigate,” Von Dohlen said when asked if the investigation into misdeeds by EFI would end with the sentencing of Guth and Joshua Yaguda.
Guth and Joshua Yaguda are scheduled for sentencing Dec. 7 at the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse.