Guth’s Pasolivo olive ranch sale squashed

December 5, 2011

By KAREN VELIE

A secretive process to sell Karen Guth’s Pasolivo Olive Ranch in Paso Robles has been stopped and the purchase of the ranch is now open to the public.

Currently, the 131 acre ranch including three stand alone homes, a studio apartment with a garage, a barn, an olive oil tasting room, a processing facility, and 34 acres of olive trees is listed for sale at $3.2 million.

Estate Financial Inc. principals Guth and her son Joshua Yaguda defrauded more than 3,000 investors out of more than $300 million in a Ponzi scheme. The fraud was uncovered, the two were arrested, eventually plead guilty and the court ordered their personal assets sold to help reimburse their victims.

Guth’s most valuable personal asset is the Pasolivo olive oil business and its surrounding 131 acres on Vineyard Drive in Paso Robles.

In September, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office said it was close to finalizing a deal to sell the Pasolivo Ranch property and that the bidding was closed to new bidders. The proposed sale angered some investors and potential buyers who said the prosecutor’s office had approved a secret process that kept potential buyers from learning about the sale or bidding up the price of the property.

Deputy District Attorney Steve von Dohlen said he chose not to advertise the sale of the property because advertising would be costly for the investors. Instead, von Dohlen said, he and Andrew Feola, the receiver for the property chosen by the district attorney’s office, used e-mails and telephone calls to notify potential buyers.

However, California law requires openness in the sale of seized property including mailing letters to all interested parties and advertising in a paper of record.

Shortly after CalCoastNews uncovered the private sale, the proposed sale was stopped and the property was listed with Nancy McWhorter of Keller Williams Realty for $3.2 million.

Even though the property has been placed back on the market, investors and some real estate agents claim the district attorney and an appointed receiver have not returned requests for information on the property’s sale status keeping many from knowing it is now on the market.

For example, about a month ago, the Broker of Peabody and Plum, Michael Sherer, said he called Feola to ask if the property was available because he had an interested client. Sherer said the trustee never returned his call.

Karen Guth and Joshua Yaguda

Last week, Sherer said he informed his client of the court ordered sale that now allows the public to make offers on the ranch through January 14.

After the bidding is concluded, von Dohlen will have to have the sale approved by a San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge.

Generally, during a hearing to approve the purchase of property in the hands of a receiver, advertising is done to entice over-bidders to the court in an attempt to maximize reimbursement to the victims.

A process that was not followed by the district attorney’s office while previously selling several of Guth’s other holdings. Instead of concluding the sale of her and Yaguda’s properties through hearings, von Dohlen successfully petitioned Judge Jac Crawford to sign off on the sales, according to court documents.

 


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23 Comments

  1. darwin_is_rolling_over says:

    I know both Steve von Dohlen and Michael Sherer.

    If I had to pick one to trust my future or money with, it would never be the later. Ever.

    A DA’s job is to look out for the public as a whole, not just the investors.

    Steve is an honest and well intentioned human being in a difficult legal position being pulled be those he works for. I guarantee you that anyone who has ever come in contact with Steve would take offense to referring to him as von Dips*&t.

    As with most things that we stick our noses into with this electronic form of gossip, we probably don’t know all the facts, and neither does Calcoast.

    (10) 28 Total Votes - 19 up - 9 down
    • MarkJames says:

      It was only after CCN broke this story open that the property was advertised on the public market like it should have been. Without CCN, this property would have sold to someone’s crony friend at half it’s value. It would be interesting to know who had been lucky enough to be in the loop. Go back and read the story that broke this open and then try to tell me how honest Von Dips is.. You really have your nerve, oh it’s wasn’t Steve’s fault, he was “being pulled by those he works for”. I say cough up who was behind it and made him the patsy or stick in in your ear.

      (9) 17 Total Votes - 13 up - 4 down
  2. smartmouth says:

    Is anyone investigating Deputy District Attorney Steve von Dohlen? Anybody know how one would get that ball rolling?

    (12) 22 Total Votes - 17 up - 5 down

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