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.
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.