Estate Financial principals sentenced

December 7, 2009
Karen Guth and Joshua Yaguda

Karen Guth and Joshua Yaguda


San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Jac Crawford sentenced Estate Financial, Inc. principal Karen Guth to 12 years in prison and Joshua Yaguda to eight years for fraudulently selling securities without the proper licenses, lying to investors and stealing or destroying property worth $3.2 million.

Guth and Yaguda pleaded guilty in October to 26 felony counts after Crawford offered a plea agreement that stipulated that the defendants plead guilty and agree not to appeal in exchange for the eight and 12 year sentences.

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

Victims of the financial schemes asked the judge to render a stiffer penalty. Guth and Yaguda sat quietly while 28 investors related how the defendants’ crimes had impacted their lives.

Many had lost their homes and had been forced, though well into retirement, to look for employment in order to make ends meet. A few broke down and wept while they explained how the crimes of Guth and Yaguda had left them broken, depressed and hopeless.

Guth’s attorney, Steven Smith, said that Guth had not lived the lavish lifestyle she was accused of enjoying at the expense of investors. He told the court how he had been given a ride in her broken and aged Jaguar and how her 4,000 square foot home was in disrepair.

He failed to mention that aside from her home, she had owned vacation homes in Cayucos and Cambria. The Moonstone Beach getaway included white water ocean views from every room.

Crawford elected to stick to his plea agreement. As a result of the sentencing, the pair’s assets, such as the Pasolivo olive ranch, can now be sold.

Enticed by the promise of 12 percent interest on property-secured investments, approximately 3,400 investors entrusted their nest eggs with Guth and Yaguda. Estate Financial’s portfolio contained more than $317 million in monies owed to investors when the company filed bankruptcy in 2008. Of that, only $21,000 was held free and clear.

A restitution hearing has been set for Feb. 24.


I am sorry and not surprised. Our case was a joke when it was in San Luis OBispo court and now we found out that the judge Tageman was in a hurry as well as Girgger Jones to get it OUT OF CALIFORNIA and have it moved to Hawaii. THe motion filed was to have the court proceed with a QDOT naming Accountant Michael GOuld as the operating instrument to dissolve the estate. Remember this is 4 years before we proved the documents naming Elizabeth Asanuma Meek as Trustee were fabricated by Jones………… A QDOT is not necessary if someone is already in the process of becoming a citizen. Elizabeth had filed for citizenship months before the court date………….Jones knew this….The attorney in Hawaii has confirmed this. Grigger Jones knew and one year later Judge Tageman granted their motion (AFTER ELIZABETH had already become a citizen) and agreed to have the case moved to Hawaii.

Short story long, I would seriously question the judges you have sitting on the bench in San Luis Obispo………………………….perhaps Judge Crawford was unaware of all the facts because Steve Smith didn’t disclose everything (that’s not his job anyway, his job is to protect his clients no matter what) or just elected to make a lax sentence. Judge Tagman was lied to by Jones (I would n’t want to think Judge Tageman was aware the QDOT was not necessary).

Stay strong Cheseburger


cheseburger said: To my friend Nancy Meek, you have a civil case against Grigger Jones for slander and libel, I would file soon because he is going down! He calls you a nut case, more like he’s trying to save his balls! Grigger, what about the drunk driving homicides by Gearhart, he got away with murder then and see what he did after! I am totally surprised no one but the Chese has brought this to the light of day!


Thanks for helping I do get a little carried away, see today’s Trib. I blew my cover long ago.


I thought that was you Chese, from your describition of what you do for a living awhile back. Nice pick and story. Hey and with short term memory we’ll all probably forget what you look like in six months. We’ll I’ll remember the knit cap. :-)


Lets all send the Chese positive thoughts to hit on some great business idea or win the lottery or maybe that the FBI will find a mother load of everyone’s money stashed in an off shore account by Grigger Jones.


Considering the ramifications and evidence supporting that Attorney Robert Grigger Jones, Gearhart and others were conspiring to help Gearhart hide money and the back door dealings to push the PeJiHoTa casino in place (Chris Molina is not supported by the Bureau of Indians, I checked, in fact several people I was told don’t even like the guy) WHY AREN”T THESE GUYS in jail RIGHT NOW? Why hasn’t the Santa Maria FBI Field agent Deiter Wilkomm completed his investigation? We already know from the audit performed recently on the Atascadero PD they do not have the resources to investigate as thoroughly as they could otherwise…………… the way you can thank yours truly for the audit (My father had alo of friends in State Government who were shocked to hear what was happening with Grigger Jones and the fraud allegations (actually the forensics pretty much proved that he committed fraud) Short story long…………………….why aren’t these guys in jail right now? And Mr. Jones if you are looking at this I would appreciate your ceasing to continuie contacting people telling them I am a “nut job” and “you think I am a mental patient” and telling people you are “aware of the internet rantings of the unbalanced individual” (meaning me………….)

Sorry for Cheseburger He must feel the justice handed down is not enough I can only hope the restitution hearing is more successful.


Nanci, Glad to hear that your making headway in the Hawaiian courts and that the judge has called for a hearing to further examine all the evidence, after noting the forgeries produced by Grigger Jones. I find it odd that Grigger Jones can’t explain to Atascadero detectives how forged signatures ended up in his files and how he so happened to sign sworn documents stating that your father (who he knew) had signed his name in Griggers office! Yet detective Plum (sp) thinks its not enough to take to the DA! The DA says it isn’t Atascadero PD’s call to decide if it’s enough. So here we all are folks, caught in another catch 22 where inaction is the name of the game.


cheseburger said:To Cindy; Joey Riccano is a personal friend of mine! He was hand cuffed out of a tree, cut down by morons, in what now is a deserted lot, with a chain fence around it,(just maybe he was right?)

Another subject, I don’t mind changing either, does anyone know about the drunk driving homicides at 15 years old, committed by Gearhart? Maybe , just maybe, I am alleging, Grigger, got him off then too????? I have the names off the victims, and people in the know! I will keep digging dirt until I have enough to bury all their heads!


Chese- Seems to me that I recall hearing something about that. Was he charged?


In my opinion this sentence of so few years is a joke! It certainly will not discourage others from future ponzi schemes. The judge should be ashamed of himself.


cheseburger said:

I agree with jim,”It certainly will not discourage others from future ponzi schemes.”

I did not loose money through EFI, but I hope some investor’s grandchild is doing life for a misdemeanor and decides to present justice in the form of a sharpened spoon between the ribs of both male and female infiltrators to the human race, they are really luminosity aliens assuming human identity and should be disposed of at area 51, by a nuclear device up each rectal opening that aliens have, all openings they have are rectal. The only way I can see this happening is if they shared a little of that 3.2 million with the good old boy judges in this stinking good old boy county, now Gearhart and Miller will bargain for the same sentence only 1/3 the jail time because they only stole 1/3 the money, write the pres. everybody else is crooked as a dogs hind leg. Justice bought and sold only in America, cut off a hand from each and the jail time, that would be more fare! I’ve been waiting to cool off before posting on this article, let’s all hope for the incarcerated grand-kid’s success!!! SO MUCH FOR THE CHESEBURGER COOLING OFF, more like off hook, someone in prison, I pray, will cut them, both, a piece of cake. We shall all pray, chocolate or angel food, maybe devil’s food cake, Betty!


It’d be worthwhile to know how this compares to sentences for other similar fraudsters, e.g., Charles Keating.


Keating was sentenced to 12 1/2 years and served 4 1/2 years. Michael Milken, the junk bond king, served 22 months in prison after a 10 year recommendation. The sentences for Guth and Yaguda are in line and Judge Crawford did the right thing. I think most folks want to hang these two because it is a significant fraud for this area, however, in the scheme of things (no pun intended) this is diminutive in comparison to larger frauds. One other note is that the moronic investors who were being promised 10% to 13% on their investments should have probably been indicted as well for being greedy.


Sad anyone still holds this moronic attitude. Not the investors, but those who blame them for being cheated. I’ve done the math for all this, amounts to around 2% profit from a 12% investment after all charges and losses-BEFORE TAXES! Not greedy and the fraud should be punished way more heavily. jlwils inspires feelings of intense consternation, I hope other readers will join me in condemning this incredible short sighted attitude.


Cry me a river! It’s one thing if you can afford to lose an investment. However, when I read stories about the elderly victims who lost EVERYTHING, I have no sympathy. As the song goes “Pleased to me you, hope you guess my name”. Most of these investors were disappointed with their secure 2% to 3% CD investments and decided to roll the dice. Snake eyes! The good news is that they will be able to write off a maximum of $3,000 each year in losses on their tax returns for the next 100 years. Greed is the mouth of the devil and these investors fed him.


It’s pleased to meet you moron, these defrauded elderly investors trusted Gearhart and were solicited with that trust, if you think taking some old person’s money because you can, is okay, you too, can fry like a fish on hot sand!

fat chance

If they had been drinking and driving and smoking while cheating people out of their life saving they would of got life with no chance of parole. What a joke!


Guth’s attorney tries to elicit sympathy in final statement. UNREAL! Can we sentence this guy for being an absolute a**hole??


There is no possibility of a rainbow at the end of this storm for the investors. Guth could be drawn and quartered, and it wouldn’t bring their money back. I think the take-away message from this fiasco is that you can’t put all your eggs in one basket, not matter how closely you watch it.

The only way to be protected from the next slick Yaguda is to not let him invest all your money. I mean no disrespect to the duped investors, I only mean to observe the benefits of diversification.


It was tough listening to how so many who worked so hard gave EVERYTHING to the same investment firm. Whether it was 40,000 or a million, for some it was everything they had. Investors have run with assumptions and accusations that are wrong in some cases, but necessary to justify decisions made. While this site may serve a purpose with newspapers on the decline, reporters must try to stay unbiased, report the facts and maintain credibility. The twisting of facts, numbers and statements is quite obvious to anyone who sat in the courtroom trying to maintain objectivity. No winners here.


What a travesty. Slime like this have contributed to the massive meltdown, affecting everyone in society. I guess the court system here doesn’t have the guts to do the right thing. Light sentence for the crooks, ruin for the victims. This is really hard to believe.

Tweets that mention Estate Financial principals sentenced | Cal Coast News --

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CalCoastNews, SLO News. SLO News said: Estate Financial principals sentenced: San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Jac Crawford sentenced Estate Finan.. […]