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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UPDATE: Courts asking for portion of casino profits

By KAREN VELIE Federal bankruptcy court attorneys plan to ask for a portion of proceeds of a proposed Indian casino to be available to reimburse creditors of bankrupt North County developer Kelly Gearhart. In June, Ohio Federal Bankruptcy Trustee Harold A. Corzin filed a fraud complaint against local attorney Robert “Grigger” Jones, as well as Chris Molina, Daniel Phillips, and the group’s... (Continue Reading)

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Local attorney accused of fraud

By KAREN VELIE Federal bankruptcy court attorneys filed a fraud complaint against attorney Robert “Grigger” Jones, as well as Chris Molina, Daniel Phillips, and the group’s Pejihota LLC for allegedly hiding assets of bankrupt North County developer Kelly Gearhart. Gearhart linked up with Jones, Molina and Phillips to sign a contract with the Salinan Tribe of San Luis Obispo County to develop... (Continue Reading)

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City officials paved Gearhart’s path of destruction

By KAREN VELIE As developer Kelly Gearhart worked to build more than 400 new homes in the Atascadero area, city inspectors and others were apparently looking the other way, allowing Gearhart to avoid paying city fees due to falsified and unfinished inspection reports. In one case investigated by CalCoastNews, the value of a $700,000 Gearhart home is expected to have lost approximately... (Continue Reading)

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HFI’s Jay Miller forced into bankruptcy

By KAREN VELIE Several investors in Hurst Financial Inc’s (HFI) hard money lending schemes thrust HFI President Jay Miller into involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy citing Miller’s failure to repay loans he personally guaranteed. Before their meltdown a little more than a year ago, HFI’s key players’ lifestyles were reminiscent of Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby: lavish parties, exotic cars, and high rolling excursions in... (Continue Reading)

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Fraud lawsuit filed against Heritage Oaks Bank and Stewart Title

By KAREN VELIE Investors have filed a lawsuit alleging Stewart Title and Heritage Oaks Bank (HOB) aided and abetted and/or conspired with Hurst Financial Inc. (HFI) in defrauding hundreds of seniors through illegal investment schemes. The suit filed by more than 300 investors against Stewart Title, HOB, and HFI lists eight complaints including conspiracy, fraud, financial elder abuse, and negligence. Investors are... (Continue Reading)

FBI accuses Miller of racketeering and money laundering

By KAREN VELIE The FBI seized proceeds from Hurst Financial Inc. (HFI) President Jay Miller’s home May 27 because of allegations of racketeering, money laundering, and wire fraud, according to the seizure warrant. “A racket is an illegal business, usually run as part of organized crime. Engaging in racket is called racketeering,” according to Wikipedia.... (Continue Reading)

Gearhart hiding assets

By KAREN VELIE Bankruptcy trustees have seized a collectable car and are looking into allegations ex-North county developer Kelly Gearhart and his wife, Tamara Lowe, have hidden assets during their high profile bankruptcy. Bankruptcy trustees seized a yellow 1935 Packard Gearhart and Lowe owned because the couple failed to disclose the asset in their bankruptcy filing, said attorney David Farmer with the... (Continue Reading)

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Tribe’s casino pact with white men suspect

By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN A secret, decade-long, eight-phase strategy by a group of local investors – including one notorious individual now under investigation for fraud – outlines plans for construction of a Indian gaming casino in San Luis Obispo County and anticipates huge profits for its principals, confidential documents obtained by CalCoastNews reveal. Those documents show that Kelly Gearhart, a... (Continue Reading)

Heritage Oaks Bank versus the investors

By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN Heritage Oaks Bank is battling with Estate Financial Inc. and Hurst Financial investors over first place in the quest for financial compensation. Attorneys for the bank are chasing first position in the pursuit for assets of fraud suspects Karen Guth and Josh Yaguda Estate Financial Inc. (EFI), and Hurst Financial, and in some cases, trying to... (Continue Reading)

Gearhart files bankruptcy

By KAREN VELIE Kelly Gearhart, a North County developer with ties to hard money lender Hurst Financial, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in Ohio. Gearhart and his wife, Tamara Lowe, filed the bankruptcy petition on Wednesday, stating $6.5 million in estimated assets and $45.1 million in estimated debts.... (Continue Reading)

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