Kelly Gearhart’s sentencing hearing delayed again
February 23, 2015
The sentencing hearing for former Atascadero developer Kelly Gearhart has been changed three times in the past month and is currently set for June 1.
In May, Gearhart pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering in a Los Angeles federal court. Gearhart, 53, admitted that he knowingly and intentionally made misrepresentations and omissions relating to development projects to get people and institutions, including nonprofits, to trust him with their money. Gearhart faces a statutory maximum of 50 years in federal prison for defrauding investors out of more than $100 million.
Gearhart’s sentencing hearing was originally set for August 2014. It was then extended to Dec. 29 and then to Feb. 23, according to court documents. Then on Feb., 3, it was set for June 1. On Feb., 4 the date was moved to Aug., 17. Then on June 10, the court reset the sentencing hearing for June 1.
In May, Gearhart plead guilty to three charges in connection with the Vista Del Hombre project. He also agreed to pay restitution to his victims of that scheme of up to $20 million and to be truthful when dealing with the court, the probation department and pretrial services. In exchange, prosecutors dropped 13 of the 16 felony charges.
At that time, Goorvitch said he planned to seek a sentence of 11 years in federal prison. But, United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II is free to sentence Gearhart up to 50 years.
Gearhart and James Miller, the former president of Hurst Financial, defrauded more than 1,200 investors of more than $100 million in an alleged Ponzi scheme. Gearhart bilked investors who put money into Central Coast real estate projects and then siphoned off the monies for other purposes.
In 2011, Miller agreed to plead guilty to charges of fraud and money laundering in a plea agreement in which the court agreed to grant Miller’s daughter Courtney Brard immunity, according to court records. In December, Miller’s sentencing hearing was extended to March 30.
Gearhart’s questionable financial dealings were brought to light in a lengthy, ongoing series of articles by CalCoastNews starting in 2008.
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