Point Center Civil Trial Delayed

FEB 21, 2013 5:00pm ET
Comment (1)



The civil lawsuit by investors against Point Center Financial Inc. was scheduled to go to trial on Feb. 21 but is delayed due to the company stating it would be filing for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy filing is alleged to be because it wants to block actions by a receiver in an unrelated case in San Diego County.

The Orange County lawsuit seeks $43 million from the company and its owners former Assemblywoman Diane Harkey and her husband company president Dan Harkey and from the chief financial officer M. Gwen Melanson.

Point Center allegedly pooled money from individual investors and used it to fund $400 million to $500 million in residential and commercial real estate transactions between 2003 and 2007. While the strategy worked it produced returns to investors of 10% to 12% annually. But in 2007 when the real estate market turned bad the investments started going bad. The lawsuit allegedly states Point Center as a “slick and carefully concealed fraud and hoax.” The plaintiffs’ (80, some of whom have since died) claim alleges the Harkeys and Melanson misled them and siphoned money to support the lifestyles of the Harkeys.  The lawsuit alleges breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentation of facts and elder abuse. 

The bankruptcy if filed will delay the trial of the lawsuit which was filed in 2008.  (ocreflcl1-21513)


Can you imagine the legal fees in this case going on for five years since November 2008? There are over one thousand papers filed in this matter. If you would like to read it I believe the case number in Orange County Superior Court is -2008-00114401-CU-MC-CXC. Good reading and it may help you sleep or learn or both.



On Feb. 8, Darren Wassell was arrested and charged with five felonies in connection with a scheme to stop the foreclosure of his home by defrauding Wells Fargo & Co. out of $1.2 million, the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office said.

Wassell, the CEO of Still Creek Capital LLC was released from jail on $100,000 bail over the weekend and has an arraignment date pending. He faces more than five years in prison if convicted.

"I believe that when all the evidence comes out, it's going to show that Mr. Wassell believed all his actions were legal, and this is all based on a civil dispute," said Wassell's attorney, Derek Ewin.

Wells Fargo was in the process of foreclosing on Wassell's five-bedroom home with a $1.2 million mortgage when, in February 2011, Wassell filed a fraudulent deed of full reconveyance with the Contra Costa County Recorder's office, said Deputy District Attorney Ken McCormick. Wassell had a friend sign off as a trustee on the document.

Then, in 2012, Wassell used a closed U.S. Bank account to issue about $1.8 million in bad checks, including one for $1,548,600 to Wells Fargo to settle his mortgage, McCormick said.

Wells Fargo contacted the district attorney's office in late 2012, prompting a criminal investigation. (contrcosttims21113)


I surely would like to know how Wassell’s attorney is going to prove that Wassell believed all the above was legal.



San Diego County is seeking to raise recording fees from $3 to $10 using the difference to increase the prosecution of real estate and mortgage fraud.

As of Jan. 1, the maximum fee amount counties can tack on for filing select real estate transaction paperwork rose to $10 from $3 for each filing. The money generated from this fee has long gone toward a trust fund for real estate probes and prosecution.

Two counties in California, Riverside and Ventura, have recently upped their filing fees. Riverside increased its fee to $6 per filing.  In Ventura, it's now $10.

Twenty-two counties in the state, including San Diego, charge filing fees to maintain real estate prosecution funds. Because of the fund, California counties were able to lock in 200-plus real estate-crime convictions from 2011-12, the report states, including 23 in San Diego County. Those convictions represent $656.6 million in monetary losses.

In San Diego the fund has helped pay for a real estate unit that includes three lawyers, three investigators, two paralegals and a secretary.

Los Angeles County also hopes to propose a filing-fee increase to its Board of Supervisors as early as the spring, said David R. Lopez, deputy in charge of the real estate fraud unit in Los Angeles County.   "Any increase would help," Lopez said. "One additional body would help.  (Caseloads) are stacking up in Riverside, here, and all over the state."  (sduntrib21413)


What this means is: Those that have been involved in any real estate issues that are illegal or potentially illegal are not forgotten. They are on “hold” until funding can be had to prosecute. This is the funding. If you have any questions contact me.



On Feb. 11, Taya Romano, a/k/a Taya Waldon, was sentenced today to 48 months in prison for a scheme to defraud two New Jersey families relating to the purchase, financing, and improvement of real estate in Oklahoma.

She previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan to an information charging her with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

In 2008 and 2009, Taya Romano conspired with her then-husband to solicit and obtain money from two sets of family friends in New Jersey for investments in what Romano represented to be purchases of apartment complexes and undeveloped land in Oklahoma. Romano solicited a series of investments from each of the two sets of family friends, obtaining a total of $1,032,750 from one couple and $890,000 from the other couple. Romano and her husband did not use these funds for the purposes for which they had represented.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Sheridan sentenced Romano to three years of supervised release and ordered her to pay $4.7 million in restitution.  (usattnj21113)

Comments (1)
Point Center Financial formerly filed for bankruptcy late in the afternoon of February 19 as Orange County Superior Court Judge Perk was hearing motions. Point Center's counsel's claims that the bankruptcy had nothing to do with the current civil trial was inconsistent with the actual bankruptcy court filings where Point Center's investors were listed as unsecured creditors, including plaintiffs in the civil court case.

The automatic stay in the Point Center Financial bankruptcy (8:13-bk-11495-TA) was lifted by Bankruptcy Court Judge Albert last week whose Order is expected to be formally filed this morning March 27. The lifting of the stay will, as you are aware, allow the civil case to proceed. Motions and jury selection should be completed by the end of this week so that opening statements can be heard early next week.

Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, wife of Point Center Financial CEO Dan Harkey, has been asked by investors to recuse herself from the 2014 California Board of Equalization race and resign from office pending the outcome of the civil trial. Investors believe, and there is documentation to support investors concerns that Assemblywoman Harkey has a conflict of interest. The contentions that her campaign seat was funded largely from income derived from Point Center managed assets frozen to investors will be examined in court.

The receiver mentioned in your original post was appointed as a consequence of a $2.7mm judgement awarded to lien holders against Point Center financial in an action related to the bankruptcy of one of Point Center's borrowers who sought protection after Point Center failed to fully fund its loan. (Please see: 08−04553−LT11, Adversary 09−90507−LT, and Brewer v Mi Arbolito 37-2007-00074230-CU-BC-CTL)

I am a Point Center Financial investor who has conducted deep research into the matters before both courts. More details are available at pcfinvestor.org.
Posted by | Wednesday, March 27 2013 at 11:28AM ET
Add Your Comments:
Not Registered?
You must be registered to post a comment. Click here to register.
Already registered? Log in here
Please note you must now log in with your email address and password.
MultimediaSee All »