So back in the 80s when I was buying and flipping real estate, a fellow came to see me who wanted to buy 2 lots I had in the hills above the 118 in Chatsworth. He was operating for his brother-in-law and put 10k down to hold them as he did his 30-day “due diligence.”
During that time, I had others who were interested but I could do nothing since we were officially in escrow. At the end of these 30 days, these two men didn’t exercise their option to buy. And subsequently, they lost their 10k and the escrow company sent it to me.
Well, this brother-in-law went nuts and called me threatening me and accusing me of ripping him off. First of all, we were in escrow, there were instructions, if not performed there were consequences. I myself in the past had lost deposits when I could not close on a few properties including one for 50k in Malibu and I didn’t cry about it.
But this chap happened to see me on ABC TV about the blimp that cleaned smog I invented and on the front page of the
LA Business Journal. He proceeded to contact the writers and interviewers at these places and just say the worst things about me.
It took some explaining but I managed to get through this period. But this shows you, that some people jump into waters too deep for them to swim and blame everyone but themselves. They had caused me to miss several sales due to their lack of professionalism. It was a legal escrow and I had nothing to do with handling the deposit and these idiots acted like children.
This “brother-in-law” owned a huge car dealership and had business experience so he should have known better. Beyond that, if he had just called me up and said that he messed up and really needed the money back, I would have been happy to give it to him. But, once he called me up threatening me, and defaming me every chance he got, that was going too far.
It is so easy to fling mud on people but so hard to clean it up. I didn’t act that way towards the sellers of the Malibu property I lost 50k to when I couldn’t close my deal. It’s all part of doing business in the real world. But of course, people will believe a lie while the truth is still trying to get its pants on.
At the time, I was not only a professional bodyguard but had a small agency providing bodyguards in the LA area. So why this fellow thought threatening me was wise I will never know. Anyhow, I refrained from taking personal vengeance on this chap, even though he deserved it. I was and always at the very least, try to be, a Christian, which isn’t easy to do.
Everyone who deals with real estate knows, that the whole reason you use an escrow is so one party cannot “rip off” the other. All that can be executed in an escrow are the exact instructions that have been agreed to. That’s what escrow is for.
THE BANK THAT ROBBED ME
So in the late 80’s I as I said was buying and selling property. I was doing great for 5 years with single-family homes. Never missed a payment on any bill. Never miss paying a return to any investor and I had 35 of them. Made returns of 30/50/100% in 30/60/90 days…which is not easy.
But when I got into buying vacant land, it was a whole new ball game. So check this out.
Cal Fed Savings and Loan was a 40 billion dollar corporation. They sold me and my partner, 14 acres in Chatsworth, California next to the 118 Freeway. What they didn’t do was disclose to us, that they had promised the drainage water rights to the neighbor to the north, Porter Ranch Development Company, the third biggest builder in the US and first in California, also known as Porter Ranch Development Company.
As soon as we closed escrow and put down $575,000 for a deposit, we were the second party sued by this huge corp for water/drainage rights. The lawsuit took 2 years to win. Our monthly payment on the near million dollar loan was $9000 a month, and after 200k plus in attorney fees, we won but only won the compensation of having this company build the Rinaldi bridge through our property at their expense.
We owned 10 properties at the time and after losing 2.2 million on this deal where basically the bank defrauded us and caused us to lose millions, we went bankrupt and lost all our properties and defaulted on our loans from investors. Now…
If any private citizen had done this and not disclosed the facts that they had promised water rights to the neighbor, they would have gone to prison. But not a corporation. They got away with it, bankrupted us, made us look like a bunch of rip-offs to our investors, ruined our name and credit, took the property back, and then sold it to the builder who had suited them and us!
This is business in America. And I am in prison for bank robbery. When the fact is, this bank robbed us for ten times the amount we are accused of taking and they have no penalty but I get a 41-year sentence.
Do you see how unfair the justice system is in America? The corporations can basically do whatever they want and the little guy is crucified on a regular basis. What is illegal for one is legal and par for the course for the other. Needless to say, no matter how much money we made for our investors in those previously 5 years, all they could remember is they lost their last investment and therefore we were thieves.
Explaining how the bank performed an illegal act, winning in court after 2 years, and how messed up it was for the bank to get the property back, plus 2 million of our funds and bankrupt us, take the property and resell it to our neighbors and the only people damaged out of the deal were me and my partner. Again, nondisclosure in a real estate deal is a crime, but not for billion-dollar corporations, just for private citizens. This is why we need real justice reform in the country.
In those days there were no social media to where I could explain all this to our people, and neither did they really want to hear it.
And to be frank, I can’t blame them.
OK, ONE MORE HORROR STORY ABOUT REAL ESTATE AND HOW EVIL PEOPLE CAN BE
When we were cooking along in real estate deals, I attended a church in the next town and the pastor was happy to have us.
He was into putting lawns in for homeowners and so I hired him to come to fix up the lawn of a house we bought in Simi Valley.
While there he said he loved the house and wished he could have one like it. I said, “You like this house pastor?” “Oh yes,” he said. I said, “You want it?” He was confused and not understanding, I told him I would sign it over to him if he wanted it.
He agreed and the night before he had preached a message named, “The Power of A Handshake.” I shook his hand.
He took control of the home and put about 13 people to live in it. They destroyed the place in 2 weeks. The police were called out nightly. The tenants cut down 2 palm trees that were some of the tallest and oldest in Simi Valley.
They were slated to be a National Landmark.
Finally, he asked me to take the property back after doing about 20k in damage. I sold it for no money down to a stranger who I simply asked to make the payments and not ruin our credit so he took over the property in a wrap-around mortgage.
This fellow never made a payment. After ruining my uncle’s credit, he sold it a year later and made 100k! This could have been the pastor’s profit but instead went to a stranger who didn’t keep his word.
This is how people are. And when I went to a Pentecostal conference years later, I ran into the pastor who apologized and said he had done me wrong, and didn’t know what he was getting into, I forgave him. About a year after that, I was getting my hair cut by one of his church members who asked me what I thought of him. I said nothing but good about him.
Do you know what he replied? He said, “Wow, I’m surprised that you say that about the pastor, he doesn’t feel the same way about you. He basically speaks nothing but evil about you.” Of course, I just shook my head. People never cease to amaze.
Yes, I’ve done wrong in my life, yes I have sinned and made many mistakes. Still, those errors don’t preclude the fact that many people have done me wrong also, lied and abused me, and smutted me up and because of the things I have in fact admitted to and done wrong, the world automatically thinks that I am guilty of all, and I know better.
In all this generosity, I still can’t see how I did anything wrong. But it just shows you how unthankful and unforgiving people can be, and this was a pastor!
So yes, I admit to things I have done wrong, but I also know what it’s like to be falsely accused and maligned for no reason.
Oh, the games people play now,
Every night and every day now,
Never meaning what they say now,
Never saying what they mean,
So they wall away the hours,
In the ivory towers,
Till they are covered up with flowers,
In the back of a black limousine.