Developers practices draw questions, complaints

July 21, 2015
John Belsher and Ryan Petetit

John Belsher and Ryan Petetit

By KAREN VELIE

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series about developers Ryan Petetit and John Belsher, their development projects, their promises to investors of 20 to 50 percent rates of return, legal troubles, and reported failures to pay subcontractors.

The principals of a San Luis Obispo-based real estate investment and development company involved in more than a dozen proposed projects are under fire for not paying subcontractors, violating building codes and allegedly funneling investor monies into several companies they created without disclosing their ownership to investors.

In 2012, John Belsher, 61, and Ryan Petetit, 28, created PB Companies. Since then, their portfolio has grown to include more than a dozen projects that Belsher and Petetit value at more than $300 million, according to the Pacific Coast Business Times.

“The company was founded to create investment solutions and equity plays in the real estate and business world where the legal and financial expertise of the principals would generate a great climate of success for the company and its investors,” the PB Companies website says.

Petetit and Belsher did not return requests for comment. Rush Sheppel, a partner in several PB Companies’ projects, said that since PB Companies was created in 2012, they have never finished a project or construction of any residential or commercial building.

Petetit and Belsher are involved in several large commercial, mixed-use and residential projects including two subdivisions in Templeton, a mixed-use project at the corner of Marsh and Nipomo streets in San Luis Obispo and an assisted-living facility in Arroyo Grande.

Belsher and Petetit have secured money from banks, hard money lenders and private investors, according to county records. In some cases, investors have been promised rates of return between 20 to 50 percent, according to an email from Petetit to a potential investor.

“The San Luis rezone is going to run us about $400,000-$500,000 we will offer a 20%-50% rate of return or a percentage of the increased value,” Petetit said in a 2014 email. “For example current value is 2M the value of 200 apartments and 70 single family homes will be $15.6M. It will take two years to accomplish this then when we sale [sic] the project or decide to build it out, which we will most likely build it out we return the investment back to the investors plus their returns.”

Investors in a 26-home proposed development in Templeton were procured through San Luis Obispo based Mid-Coast Mortgage with a promise of 10 percent interest, according to the loan broker.

Wright Homes and Communities is building five homes in the Toad Creek subdivision. Wright Homes and Communities, Axis Engineering and PR Companies share the same address. Belsher and Petetit created Wright Homes in 2013 and Axis Engineering in 2012, California Secretary of State website shows.

Vince Crooks, president of Mid-Coast Mortgage, said his company does not write checks to PB Companies. Instead, his hard-money lending company pays the subcontractors working on the projects, he said.

“Every subcontractor has been paid,” Crooks said.

But, several subcontractors who worked on the Toad Creek development said they have not been fully paid though they have received some payment from Axis Engineering or PB Companies.

In the past few years, the partners have been in court over multiple financial controversies such as breach of contract and not paying fines for building violations.

In 2014, Michael Evert filed a breach of contract lawsuit after PB Companies did not pay him $3,859 for remodeling the PB Companies’ office at 3480 South Higuera Street. After the lawsuit was filed, PB Companies negotiated the payment down to $2,300 and the case was closed, court records show.

In addition to multiple civil actions, Petetit has been charged with five misdemeanors since co-founding PB Companies, two over money issues.

In 2014, Petetit was arrested for and charged with two misdemeanor counts for writing bad checks. The charges were dismissed after Petetit agreed to enter the San Luis Obispo County bad check program, according to court records.

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62 Comments

  1. agag1 says:

    Here we go again.
    Promises, promises, promises.
    If people didn’t learn after all the publicity Gearhart received, they’re never going to learn.

  2. barneyfife says:

    Hahaha… Karma Ryan and Belcher … Looks like your scheme is quickly coming to an end …not too late to jump in the ocean and escape to Australia

  3. scoopone says:

    After I read this story I opened my front door and I could smell the odor of skunks….all the way from South Higuera Street. It may take years but sounds like these guys
    are headed for the iron bar motel.

    • slophocles says:

      Some people like the smell of skunk. Like the smell of gasoline, it can provide a strange pleasure to the olfactory system.

      • racket says:

        Skunk kind of smells like pot to me, and makes me think “hey, the kids are home.”

        On topic: I have dealt with Belsher before, and he struck me as honest and capable. Granted, he’s an attorney, and now a developer, but those character flaws aside, I think he’s probably an all right guy.

  4. Dexter says:

    Here is a shout out to Kelly Gearhart … Hey Kelly ya better get your stuff off that top bunk cause it looks like you might be having company

  5. NorthCountyGuy says:

    All of the shady deals that the “Take the money and run.” land developers of SLO County have gotten away with are amazing.

    Ask John King about the unstable cut and fill lots in Tract 1990 that were never compacted in violation of the Uniform Building Code.

    The unsuspecting suckers who bought these unstable, cut and fill lots don’t have a clue of how they have been conned and swindled by land developers taking illegal shortcuts.

  6. Scarlet says:

    God, I feel so bad for the investors who are just now realizing their money is gone. And this after The Trib’s puff piece on PB. smh.

  7. catsdad says:

    Great job Karen. Kelly Gerhardt’s anyone.

  8. grc says:

    What amazes me is not that scumbags like this continue to try to dupe the people, but that the people are stupid enough to be duped.

  9. Al says:

    Future “citizens of the year”, funny money carpet beggars are moving south.

    • Al says:

      carpetbaggers

      • slophocles says:

        The carpet beggars were far worse, if I remember my US history. Carpetbaggers took advantage of southerners after the Civil War but the carpet beggars defiled the streets of the north, and still do today, begging for carpet remnants – shag, plush, indoor/outdoor – they don’t care.

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