Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Californian reponds to criticism from us

From the Bakersfield Californian:

Did they or didn't they commit fraud? Will they or won't they get jail time?

Who knows? Certainly not me. I'll leave that to the experts.

Speaking of experts, I'm getting a little fed up with the "I told you so's" from the so-called experts these days. Mostly, they're having their say anonymously on blogs, but we've received a few e-mails and phone calls as well.

The number of people in Bakersfield who apparently KNEW what was GOING ON with Crisp and Cole is amazing, considering how many people our reporters contacted in the local real estate industry over the last two years who refusedto talk to us -- or would only talk about rumors off the record.

That's right, I'm taking the task takers to task.

55 comments:

Max said...

Reposted from the bottom of the last article:

His recipe for success?

A mix of good marketing, unending drive and a lot of risk-taking.

Some good timing and a little luck didn't hurt either.

-Californian, June 10, 2006


Henry is so off the mark here, it's pathetic. Why can't the paper just admit that they dropped the ball on this?

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. When agents, appraisers, and brokers refuse to speak on a certain topic, isn't that a clue? Did it occur to anyone at the Californian that their "sources" might have a vested interest in seeing only positive RE stories?!

Bottom line: through a combination of laziness, hubris, and being star-struck by the latest "mogul", the Californian failed to do its job. In the process, they helped Crisp & Cole defraud dozens of additional victims.

Ichabod said...

Whine whine whine!

Wait, let me get this straight:

The Californian opens up their own blogs galore, and even quotes anonymous blogger comments in their paper, then they get upset at us for writing our comments in a blog? Pathetic excuse of hypocrisy if you ask me.

"We can't publish anything unless we have hard facts." What about every attack on the real estate industry? I wonder if the Californian will report on ANYTHING on Real Estate when the market is GOOD.

Anonymous said...

The Californian can't get half of there information straight. They never quote anything correct. The Californian is so fake it really is sad. We have to write to the Californian ANON because you don't print things the way they are told to you. Some of us CC employees tried telling what is going on and you ignored. Prime example: Your JJ Stockton story that her EX HUSBAND told you about. You failed to mention how she was paid lots of money to use her credit and also lived in one of the homes rent free for months. But as usual the Californian never has all of the facts and just prints words to just print words. Do some real digging if you want the real story.

Rob Dawg said...

Snigger. Blogging since August! She knows it all now and can go back to her "real" reporting. Gosh, didn't we just have a nice visit from the television offering a similar condescending "there there little blogger let the pros handle it" just last week?

The Californian took the money, they ran the puff pieces they even got suspicous and asked questions. HELLLLLLO? When real estate professionals with decades of experience refuse to talk on the record your Pulitzer gland should have been pumping out newpaper ink by the gallon. Anybody with 4th grade math could look at the personal and corporate burn rates and have figured out no amount of broker commission or flip profit could cover the expenditures.

The old media is late again. This time to their own well deserved butt whipping. For shame.

Anonymous said...

Sorry that Bakersfield got taken for a while by Crisp and Cole. Maybe blogs are getting more balanced and penetrating than print media? Just a thought. Can a Murdoch type buy up the whole internet?

SLO Bear said...

Lois,

1) Last time I checked - it's your freaking job to do the reporting! Not ours. If you mail me your paycheck, I'll be happy to do some of your work.

2) You could have followed the same leads in 2005 or 2006 and written a very similar story on Bakersfield real estate - the defaults were just the proof of what we knew all along.

http://centralcoasthousingbubble.blogspot.com/

Gretchen Wenner said...

Hello all-

I love this discussion!

The main problem we've had covering this issue comes from what's NOT in the public record.

• We don't know who the appraiser is.

• We don't know the broker of record (unless we somehow tabulated all real estate listings as they're made), the agent, who gets commissions etc.

• We don't have access to HUD 1 documents.

We have great sources who give us listing info on particular properties. That's a key verification tool. Thanks to y'all who help us. We don't have broad-based MLS access as a resource.

Our Crisp & Cole research has been vexing because no one has come forward with documents (e.g. buyers willing to show us appraisals and other non-public docs).

The residents of North Country Meadows, who did show us documents, were renters, so no appraisals were involved.

No employees, except the few we've already quoted, will say anything on the record (or off, for that matter). Whether this is from loyalty, fear, complicity or something else is anyone's guess. It's unusual.

No lawsuits were filed over sales pratices (save the Haydock lis pendens subsequently dropped by the plaintiff). All current cases are collections-related. Court records are great sources but again, no dice for this scenario.

For some of this stuff we're stuck waiting for folks with subpoena power to release their investigations.

Anyway, thanks for reading and for keeping up such an entertaining and educational blog.

Your fan and MSM idiot,

-- Gretchen Wenner, staff writer
The Bakersfield Californian

Anonymous said...

The Bakersfield Californian's whole purpose has been undermined due to this blog.

Now, the Californian is only a second source for me and many others for Real Estate News in Bakersfield. And their reporting of the 'facts' and editorial comments have clearly been discredited. They have conflicting financial interests in the Bakersfield Real Estate Market to boot. So using them as a second source is even a question. And their reporting from here on out will ALWAYS need to be taken with a grain of salt.

They sound like sore losers in this article.

Good job Bakersfield Bubble! It looks like this has been a lot of hard work for you over the last year. So congratulations. Wear this latest article as a badge of honor.

Keep up the good work.

beta said...

Max: Henry is so off the mark here, it's pathetic. Why can't the paper just admit that they dropped the ball on this?

Exactly. A bunch of schmoes trying to justify their paychecks. Pathetic.

Rob Dawg said...

DEAR Counrtywide,
As a reporter for the BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN I am investigating possible mortgage fraud that may have been perpetrated against your company. It has come to our attention that some loans you originated may have been fraudlent. So far the the names and locactions suspect are:
xxx
xxx
xxx
xxx

One of the problems we are experiencing is identifying brokers of record and/or appraisers. You may want to investigate these accusations on your own but any help you can provide from your records would be appreciated. It is our understanding that neither of these datums are privledged information.

Regards,
A B.C. Staffer

Rob Dawg said...

Gretchen Wenner,
Please understand if the reception is a bit "hot." The path you are walking, reaching out to the blogosphere is both "enemy territory" and "scorched earth." Last week Mike from the TV came by asking if gee wizz if we kids wanted a chance to help a real live TV type guy. Now the BC wants a little respect for their efforts from the new media who have suffered years of not so subtle abuse at the hands of people who buy ink by the barrel. Electrons are the new ink. Do you need to borrow a cup?

Gretchen Wenner said...

Monsieur Dawg,

I've been reading this blog a long time. I enjoyed last week's discussion with Mr. Hart.

I expected to be flamed. I like campfires!

Yours in marshmallow-ality,

Gretchen

Anonymous said...

Anyone catch the article on Jayson Costa's arrest? Strangely, it was on the BC website yesterday; now it's "missing." Still at kget.com, though. He was doing loans at Tower Lending--without a license. What no one has mentioned yet is that prior to working at Tower (and his subsequently getting a license) he worked at American Star Financial for at least a year. Broker over there says Jayson was just a "processor"--that's a flat out lie. I know--I worked in the building when he did. And if you can find me a processor who makes enough money to buy a 5, 6, and 7 series BMWs at the same time, among other extravagent purchases (like the stripper pole he had installed in his now-foreclosed on house), I need to switch job titles. Check out the DRE site--look up American Star. You'll find that both the broker and former President (who's since left to form his own company) have been suspended at some point.

Someone needs to look under that rock next. The suspensions were very hush-hush at the time, but the implication was that they had to do with Jayson's loans. Also, Am Star ended up in some kind of lawsuit with C&C over Jayson, as well.

Because if Jayson did 50 loans at Tower in 3 months, think how many he did in a year or more at Am Star.

Lone Ranger said...

Geez, what an attitude.

Lois Henry seems to be under the delusion that she works for a real newspaper.

SLO Bear said...

"I expected to be flamed. I like campfires!
Yours in marshmallow-ality"

Gretchen,

Instead of trying to impress us with your "witty" writing, see if you can come up with a story on Bakersfield RE that not reported here first.

-SB

Raynor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ichabod said...

Gretchen,

I like YOUR articles. You do a good job. You seem much more balanced than others at the paper. Keep it up.

Just another day in bako real estate. ;)

Raynor said...

One of the reasons the "task takers" and others in the RE biz were reluctant to "Non-Annonomously" give TBC information is that, until the excrement actually hit the air moving device, we were all under the impression (from DC puff-piece onward) that TBC was championing the young RE mogul who was putting Baco-Bits and them "on the map".

Come on Gretch, Lois, et al, how would that look for somemone in the biz to lay it on the line for a story for youse guys, just to summarily get it chopped off in living color (and ink).

The people on here go to title co. sites and check names on loan docs, etc. associated with other names associated with C&C assossiates and so on. Thats how its done.

I've stood up for your 4th estate props but put the 5th down and get digging!

If you wait to be given the fish you'll never get really fresh fish. You'll find its so much better to catch your own!

Annabelle said...

"The people on here go to title co. sites and check names on loan docs, etc. associated with other names associated with C&C assossiates and so on. Thats how its done."

Old Chinese saying:
He who waits for roast duck to fly in mouth waits long time.

No excuses Gretchen...except maybe the excuse your paper will have less real estate adds running (aka revenue) if you do too much investigating. There's an excuse I will believe.

Ichabod said...

Annabelle said...

Old Chinese saying:
He who waits for roast duck to fly in mouth waits long time.

~~~

Sorry, I have to!

MORE Chinese sayings:

-Never eat yellow snow.

-If you find rock that smells bad and is squishy, do not use for pillow, because is not rock.

:) Just a little fun in the blogosphere

Tyrone said...

Lois can now live on in perpetuity at the Housing Bubble Hall of Shame®. Welcome, Lois.

Anonymous said...

What they're really saying is, unless you gift wrap a story for us, we can't be bothered with it.

The fact is, your average staff reporter doesn't have the time, money, or experience to investigate a story. Especially at a newspaper like the BC. They cover single incidents, one time deals, stories that "write themselves" because that is what they are taught and expected to do (and all they have time for). In addition, they get paid so poorly that by the time they do have some experience (and real contacts) the good ones are off to bigger and better things. (I made more in college as a bartender than I ever did as a newspaper reporter).

If you are waiting for them to do any real investigating, you'll be waiting a long time.

Raynor said...

Chinese Proverb: (a real one)

"Flies do not visit the egg with no crack"

IOW, until the stench is overwhelming, most media will not respond. When it covered with other "flies", they will pile on.

Remember the birds on a wire? Best media analogy I ever heard. Watch birds on power lines. They will all be happy as a "lark" on one set until that one brave soul decides to fly over to one with none on it. Within minutes they are all over there.

Come on local media -- dare to be that one brave "fly"! There's still more to this story than you are even touching the surface of. But you gotta "dig", dig?

scotty said...

The Bakersfield Californian has edited the blogs on builder investigation, Don Juhasz DMJ Custom Homes. The gangsters can say anything, accuse and point fingers. Mr. Jason Sperber of the Californian edited blogs and chose to take the side of the crooked builder

Gretchen Wenner said...

G'mornin' y'all-

Here's what I have to work with:
Grant deeds (and variations thereof) and deeds of trust.

Here's what I want for each transaction:
- Appraiser's name
- Broker's name
- CPA's name if a comfort letter was used for a loan.

Thanks; it's been fun!

-- Gretchen

Anonymous said...

Gretchen how many times does it have to be spelled out for you. Appraiser: San Joaquin Appraisals, Broker was Carl Cole, CPA: Leslie Sluga's Husband: Kevin.

Ichabod said...

JAYSON COSTA FREED 4 AM THIS MORNING. CASE DISMISSED.

TheFunSucker said...

Speaking of Don Juhasz of DMJ Custom Homes

The article from the BC says that Don "left" a comfortable job with State Farm to pursue home building....this is not exactly true...he was asked to leave. For those that have not worked for SF please know that it is very difficult to get fired....they do not fire people for miniscule infractions...

scotty said...

Okay will someone please tell me. HOW DID JAYSON COSTA GET OUT AND CASE DISMISSED?
WHAT DID JUHASZ GET FIRED FOR?
AND
Who the hell names their kid Jayson?

Gretchen Wenner said...

Anonymous:

I'm not talking about just these instances, though even here: yes, we "know" who the appraisers are but can't prove it. We also "know" there were other out-of-area appraisers. But there is no paper trail to lay out in print.

Nor can we prove who was CPA, even if someone "tells" us. We need documents.

Anonymous said...

Gretchen,
What have you done to "document" the Aiden Logan connections to C&C related properties?

bako said...

Jayson made a deal with the law to get C&C, definitly obvious. They want the Big Boys. Jayson is just a pawn. C&C paid money to American Star because Jayson brought multiple loans from there to Tower. American wanted "their cut".

Anonymous said...

Any attempts by Carl to distance himself from David's crimes will not withstand the Aiden Logan connection.

Gretchen Wenner said...

Anon-

Those properties are all on our spreadsheet. I think Saturday or so we print everything.

Anonymous said...

Gretchen,
Fantastic, and I look forward to your piece.

Anonymous said...

ANY HOME BUYER who purchased at values which were inflated by fraudulent C&C "comps" should be pursuing legal recourse.

Anonymous said...

TO ALL HOME BUYERS IN THE AREAS WHERE CRISP & COLE CAUSED INFLATED VALUES WITH FRAUDULENT TRANSACTIONS:

If the purchase price of your home was affected by fraudulent “comps”, get a good lawyer and initiate legal action. The power of the subpoena is very powerful and will uncover facts not available through public agencies. Even if entities cease to operate, every entity involved in your real estate transaction, either directly or indirectly, had insurance at the time of your purchase and could still be liable for damages.

Start with your agent, your broker, and your appraiser. From there, use the power of the subpoena to bring in the agents, brokers, and appraisers who were involved in transactions in your area which were inflated by Crisp & Cole criminal activities.

Rob Dawg said...

Property tax revenues about to crater. The County Assesor had better get out in front right now or they'll have to add two new assesment appeals boards and still not get to everyone.

A suggestion to anyone who thinks they were misled; all of you individually file for an appeal stating your property value is $99,000. Make them prove otherwise. 80% of you won't get a timely hearing and win by default.

scotty said...

kpomjOh yes get the insurance, some BUYERS need to go to jail also. You have not been duped if you have knowledge

Anonymous said...

Why has no one looked into Julie Farmer? She was David's right arm on ALL TRANSACTIONS!!! And she was an Agent!!! Why no mention of her?

scotty said...

Just heard Jayson Costa extradited to Las Vegas. VIVA LAS VEGAS,

Anonymous said...

Hey Gretchen,

How much money did CSUB get out of all of this? That's got to be public record, right?

Are they going to return it for restitution of the mortgage company(s)? There's a story...what's Mike Hart's phone number again?

Rob Dawg said...

How much did CSUB "get?" What happened to the $2 million in engineering/study money for the condo/civic center/whatever?

Raynor said...

"How much money did CSUB get out of all of this? That's got to be public record, right?

Are they going to return it for restitution of the mortgage company(s)? There's a story...what's Mike Hart's phone number again?"

Yeah -- two mil at least!

Didn't Mitchell just get a riase to where he makes almost $300K/yr now?

Anonymous said...

Nice blog, guys. Even though you do far more borrowing than reporting and breaking of stories, your blog is informative.

But it's comical to believe your holier-than-thou attitudes when your spew about defaults and housing bubbles appears next to Google Ads promoting McAllister Ranch and N-Vest Corp. (a fly-by-night outfit cleaning up overvalued real estate). I wish I could attach a screen shot. you made my day.

Realestateslasher said...

Wow some cowboys just go down
like that

sweet addiction

Anonymous said...

In response below to the Jayson Costa thing- I love how ever one is quick to judge. First of all he was not arrest on anything to do with real estate. This cracks me up how he (anonymous) would like to bring something that happened over a year ago that was not or may not have been at all for Jayson Costa. Nothing was HUSH HUSH they took there fine a dealt with it. Secondly the (president) did not so called leave his own company for a bad reason. American Star was not just his company there are 2 other people involved so don’t make it out like it was a bad thing, because it is not. Did it ever cross your little minds that maybe he just did not want to work for such a large company or maybe the broker is a 2 faced, bull shitting, fake church goers- That nobody can stand! Secondly who really cares if there is 3, 5, 7 series BMW there are someone low income driving the 3 AND. For that person that wrote this if you were in the building then you are a trader and should not run you mouth like that. Don’t get me wrong that I think they all have it coming for all the fraud. So we are still sitting here talking about the Costa’s, Crisp & Cole’s, but what about those that are still doing loan. David Siador, Lupe Ramirez (realtor) I am sure that there is a long list not to mention there so called knew president of AM STAR ( !!!!!) she enables these Loan Officers and show’s them how to get away with fraud. This is why our media does not go off of every little post there is because it is a lot of rumors.

Ichabod said...

Anonymous said...
In response below to the Jayson Costa thing- I love how ever one is quick to judge. First of all he was not arrest on anything to do with real estate. This cracks me up how he (anonymous) would like to bring something that happened over a year ago that was not or may not have been at all for Jayson Costa. Nothing was HUSH HUSH they took there fine a dealt with it. Secondly the (president) did not so called leave his own company for a bad reason. American Star was not just his company there are 2 other people involved so don’t make it out like it was a bad thing, because it is not. Did it ever cross your little minds that maybe he just did not want to work for such a large company or maybe the broker is a 2 faced, bull shitting, fake church goers- That nobody can stand! Secondly who really cares if there is 3, 5, 7 series BMW there are someone low income driving the 3 AND. For that person that wrote this if you were in the building then you are a trader and should not run you mouth like that. Don’t get me wrong that I think they all have it coming for all the fraud. So we are still sitting here talking about the Costa’s, Crisp & Cole’s, but what about those that are still doing loan. David Siador, Lupe Ramirez (realtor) I am sure that there is a long list not to mention there so called knew president of AM STAR ( !!!!!) she enables these Loan Officers and show’s them how to get away with fraud. This is why our media does not go off of every little post there is because it is a lot of rumors.


~~~

Thank you for that well thought out, proofed, grammatically correct rant. We idiots here on this blog sincerely appreciate it.

Realestateslasher said...

Who is Lupe Ramirez ?

Raynor said...

lupe did some loans now in default I believe

Anonymous said...

I saw the piece in Sat's Californian that shows the (known) extent of the C&C web but I didn't see any fresh info - like comments from some of these mtg companies or if they also have ties to Crisp. Some of the mtg company names come up over & over like SunTrust, Long Beach, Aegis. If you were a reporter, wouldn't this at least make you say "hmmm..."

Raynor said...

Yes anon. To be any good at investigative reporting, you have got to "connect the dots".

This means start looking for things that repeat, names, patterns, in short think outside the box.

You start by doing the doc's though. Thats when these things will appear to you. It seems to me the "reporters" are just now starting to do this.

You don't learn real investigative reporting by talking high school football (unless its about steroid use - hint, hint - another story?).

Anonymous said...

I am surprised by how many people on this blog think that all these firms are just dying to talk to the media. Yeah, there probably are ties to Crisp (other then the obvious one that they did business with him).

Why do you think the mtg firms would talk to the BC? I sure as hell wouldn't even if I was clean. Right now any firm would have to show that they made really bad, if legal, loans. I would keep a tight lid on all my files unless the person at the door was a FBI agent with a warrant.

Raynor said...

Fourth Estate <=> Fourth Amendment

Anonymous said...

It's not that I think the mtg. cos. want to talk to the media - the opposite would be my guess. I was just looking in the articles for something that said they (reporters) had tried to get a statement or researched mortgage business ownership records or loan officers for names that might come up repeatedly or for C&C connections. Even the usual "SunTrust could not be reached for comment by the time this story went to press." And not in the r.e. biz makes me wonder why they just didn't make the initial loans to themselves through Tower Lending or why can't Crisp bail out with his billion dollar letter of credit. I commend the reporters for laying it all out in front of us and working so hard to meet deadlines with limited resources.