Cuesta Title ex-employee tight-lipped at deposition

May 28, 2013
Kelly Gearhart

Kelly Gearhart


A former Cuesta Title employee refused to answer questions posed to her at a Kelly Gearhart-linked deposition, asserting her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

In 2009, investors filed a lawsuit alleging Stewart Title and Cuesta Title aided and abetted and/or conspired with Hurst Financial Inc. (HFI) and former North County developer Gearhart in defrauding local seniors through illegal investment schemes.

The lawsuit, filed by more than 500 investors, lists eight complaints including conspiracy, fraud, financial elder abuse and negligence. Investors are seeking punitive as well as compensatory damages.

The plaintiffs accuse the title companies of closing escrows, recording ownership interests and transferring funds in an investment scheme that cost the plaintiffs over $73 million.

At her deposition, Kim Bucknell refused to answer questions, asserting her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself.

Last month, Stewart and Cuesta Title filed a motion asking the court to either grant Bucknell immunity from criminal prosecution, or agree to delay the civil trial now slated for July 29.

“Bucknell is the only person who can definitively testify to her own lack of knowledge of wrongdoing and she can corroborate that Cuesta had no knowledge of the fraud,” according to court documents.

Attorneys for the title companies argued that Bucknell’s testimony would corroborate the testimony of Melanie Schneider, an ex-employee of Stewart Title (formerly Cuesta Title) who was a key person in the majority of HFI’s alleged fraudulent transactions.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Goorvitch filed a declaration opposing the title companies’ motion on the grounds that granting Bucknell immunity could interfere with current and future criminal proceedings, according to court documents.

The title companies’ attorneys also suggested that the court postpone the civil trial until the statute of limitations regarding criminal prosecutions has run out, according to court documents.

Goorvitch fired back, saying that “where financial institutions are victims, the statute of limitations for mail and wire fraud is 10 years.”

In a tentative ruling last week, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall denied the defendants’ request for immunity for Bucknell because the right of privilege overrides the importance of her testimony. Crandall also denied the defendants’ request for a new trial date.


Niles Q

Taking the fifth is indeed the last vestige of a scoundrel trying to stay out of prison or in this case not be sued.

I can’t imagine she has anything left or the company has much left for the plaintiffs to take away at this point. I wouldn’t doubt that whatever they could squirrel away overseas or bury in the backyard has been done by now. Gearhart, Jones and this woman plus all the others involved in this scheme had plenty of time to hide the ill-gotten gains.

Hopefully this and all the other scams that have been uncovered in recent years will be a lesson to everyone — if an investment sounds too good to be true, it is and you will be ripped off.

No one gets huge returns on investments without having to work for it. Don’t give your money to some fly-by-night loan company or any risky investment. You’d be better off packing it under your mattress in the long run.

And given what’s happened now with Yaguda and her son, the prison penalties aren’t even that bad. Maybe the swindling laws need to be strengthen as to sentencing, say 10 years for every $1 million stolen?

You use a gun to rob someone of $10 and you’ll do 10 years. but help steal $73 million, and it’s not likely you’ll get 730 years.


God knows exactly what was done.


Can’t we waterboard the truth out of her?


Doesn’t surprise me that she took the 5th. When Gearhart’s “Partner” with the Pe Ji Ho Ta Attorney Robert M. “Grigger” Jones was on the stand two years ago during our litigation in Hawaii I asked him questions and his answers were “I cannot recall” When questioned about his affidavit wherein he states my father signed the 1st amendment in Hawaii and three days later signed the SAME document in his office in Atascadero he said he couldn’t recall the affidavit or signing it. He also stated he didn’t know how the document with the forged signatures came to be in his office. When I presented the forged document to him, he turned each page and stated it was the first time he had seen the document. What a liar! And in a court of law……..a lawyer lying. With the evidence in front of him. Amazing! It isn’t over folks………………..when someone takes the 5th it is the same as saying “Oh no……I don’t want to tell the truth!” It would appear Ms. Bucknell doesn’t want to tell the truth. Only cowards take the 5th.

– Nanci Meek (760) 413-5660


When I was working in the NSA, we were trained to use the “I do not recall” answer to avoid giving testimony (should we find ourselves in that situation) that may damage security.

So every time I see a politician using the “I don’t know” or “I don’t recall” – I know exactly what they’re doing. One cannot be proven to be lying when claiming to not recall. It’s a solid “F.U.” defense, sadly.


Grigger Jones also made up some stupid story about our Dad changing his trust a year later because he had reconciled with our stepmother. We know what our family dynamic is and to sit back and watch an attorney keep lying and telling more lies to cover his coward soul was eye opening for me. The guy is a piece of work. And we are not the only family he has tried to swindle. In fact one family I mentioned in court and shortly thereafter Jones recused himself as their attorney. Probably realized he was in for another court battle.


You are so right. Reagan used that limp wristed refrain to dodge any responsibility for the murder and mayhem he allowed/caused in Central America and the subsequent ‘drugs for guns’ deal he and his henchman Ollie North perpetrated with the vicious contras in Nicaragua who slaughtered many thousands of innocent civilians. His endless “I don’t recall’ answers to questions about his knowledge of events concerning those dark days will live in our minds to the end of time,


Just like the answers being given currently by the high ranking officials with the IRS and Benghazi during the hearings taking place in Washington.

Spirit Filled

Dear Nanci,

Or the ones that don’t want to go to jail I’m afraid I would be one of the cowards.

By the way, I am very sorry for everything you have gone through. I will pray for the end of all this pain in your life.

God Bless


Thank you.


While I am sorry for what you have been through, your last sentence is wrong. The 5th may protect the guilty to a degree but it also helps protect the innocent from being framed for crimes they didn’t commit.

The fifth amendment can and should be taken by innocent people because of the sad imperfections of our “justice” system. In a criminal proceeding, “justice” takes second place to “winning” and the prosecution will often pull as many legal tricks to get A conviction as the sleaziest of defense attorneys do to get a guilty man off. Once they have decided that they can make a PLAUSIBLE case that the accused is guilty, the reality of the situation becomes irrelevant to them as does real justice. Police adopt the same attitude too often.


If you have nothing to hide you will tell the truth.


It is obvious you have never been at the end of the stick with the county DA’s office wielding it.


Hmm….looks like a lot of other people are going down with Mr. Gearhart before this is over. At least we can hope.


Alberto Gonzalez, “I don’t recall.” ….72 times. That’s how you testify!


Just play the Eric Holder Card and voila!


The truly sad thing is that after all these legal shenanigans are done with, the poor schleps who “invested” their 73 million will be lucky to see a dime on the dollar return if that! I’m a lot more in

trepidation over sociopaths like Gearhart and company then a schizo off his/her meds.

Spirit Filled

Depends on whose voices he hears in the quiet times. Sometimes even in the loud times. I have a good friend that is a schizo on his meds at the moment. He told me he hears voices the majority of the time he’s awake. Sometime they order him to do something good. Like make your bed! Do the dishes! Paint the house! Actually he just found out it was his dad hiding by his bed at night talking to him.

God Bless

Jorge Estrada

Does anyone want another sleezy property listing that Questa Title insured?


It’s their FIFTH amendment right, not their first.

Let’s send her to the IRS to head OBAMSKICARE! They are looking for someone new!


I’ll corroborate that.

Ted Slanders


Damn, if Kim Bucknell was only available in the Bush crime era regarding the Iraq war. She could have continued the fraud of said war, and at the same time, all of the costs were “off the books” and hidden where she wouldn’t have had to worry!

Forget Obamacare, then the citizens that can afford health care will have their premiums rise continuously because of the people that can’t afford healthcare, like they do now. Someone has to pay for it, praise Jesus!