CalCoastNews Series

Kelly Gearhart, Developer

Atascadero land developer Kelly Gearhart and onetime Atascadero “Person of the Year” awaits trial.
In August 2012, Gearhart pleaded not guilty to 16 charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering at a federal court in Los Angeles. He faces up to 300 years in federal prison if convicted on all charges.

Gearhart and the former president of Hurst Financial, James Miller, have been accused of helping to defraud more than 1,200 investors of more than $100 million in an alleged Ponzi scheme. Miller and Gearhart bilked investors who put money into Central Coast real estate projects and then siphoned off the monies for other purposes, including maintaining lavish lifestyles, federal authorities alleged.

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SLO County battling trustees over Gearhart properties

Following an announcement in early June by the San Luis Obispo County tax collector’s office that several of former North County developer Kelly Gearhart’s tax-defaulted properties were to be sold at auction on July 1, an Ohio court trustee filed a motion to stop the proposed sales. As of June 6, Gearhart, his wife Tamara […]... (Continue Reading)

Gearhart owes county $207,000

The county tax collector has added his name to the growing list of people, banks and other businesses owed money by former North County developer Kelly V. Gearhart, claiming the Ohio resident is more than $207,000 in arrears in property tax payments and assessments to San Luis Obispo County. Gearhart, once one of the most […]... (Continue Reading)

Son of Kelly Gearhart dead at 21

Jake Gearhart, the son of embattled former North County developer Kelly Gearhart, recently died of a drug overdose at a rehab center in the Los Angeles area. Amid allegations that Kelly Gearhart helped defraud investors out of more than $100 million in an alleged Ponzi scheme, he moved to Wadsworth, Ohio, in 2009. The move […]... (Continue Reading)

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Atascadero lender’s sentencing delayed

An Atascadero man awaiting sentencing on federal fraud charges was given a few more months of freedom after a judge delayed his sentencing hearing from March 26 to June 25, according to a court order. James Hurst Miller, the former president of Hurst Financial Inc., agreed to plead guilty to charges of swindling as many […]... (Continue Reading)

Gearhart appraiser loses license over land fraud

An Atascadero-based appraiser whose inflated appraisals helped North County Developer Kelly Gearhart defraud investors out of more than $100 million has lost his license. The California Attorney General’s office ordered Terry Pippin to surrender his license in December. Pippin made false statements in appraisals that helped Gearhart, James Hurst Miller and others get financing that was used to carry out the... (Continue Reading)

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Atascadero facing another water rate increase

Atascadero residents could see their water rates go up another 7.5 percent if officials at the Atascadero Mutual Water Company have their way. [AtascaderoNews] On Jan. 11, the Atascadero Mutual Water Company (AMWC) Board will discuss if the rate increase is needed to continue to cover the city’s obligations to the Nacimiento Water Project. AMWC […]... (Continue Reading)

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Salinan Tribe applies for federal recognition

The local Salinan Indian Tribe has again applied for recognition from the federal government. [Tribune] Last week, the tribe sent 920 pounds of documents to the federal government supporting the tribe’s request. Chris Molina, a spokesman for the Salinan Tribe of San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties, told the Tribune, the tribe is “seeking to […]... (Continue Reading)

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Kelly Gearhart accused of assault

No arrests were made or charges filed in connection with a July disturbance with injuries at the Ohio home of former Atascadero man-of-the-year Kelly Gearhart Terry Locklear, 55, said he is still recovering from the altercation where he contends Gearhart pushed him from an elevated porch at the former developer's current home in Wadsworth. Three neighbors saw the altercation, Gearhart,... (Continue Reading)

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Plea agreement reached in Hurst Financial fraud case

A former Atascadero lender has agreed to plead guilty to charges of swindling as many as 1,200 investors out of more than $100 million in a fraudulent investment scheme, according to the court docket. James Hurst Miller and federal prosecutors agreed to a plea agreement on August 19. The court then filed the agreement under seal. On August 18, the U.S. attorney’s... (Continue Reading)

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Hurst Financial president charged with defrauding investors

The U.S. attorney office today filed federal fraud and money laundering charges against the head of an Atascadero financial company alleging that he bilked investors in Central Coast real estate projects. The money was ultimately siphoned off for other purposes, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a press release. A 2008 CalCoastNews' investigation revealed James Hurst Miller and former north county... (Continue Reading)