CALIFORNIA CITY — A San Diego Superior Court judge on Nov. 6 approved the sale of the Silver Saddle in California City, closing out one part of a controversial story related to a multi-million dollar land sale scheme.
Regulatory Resolutions, the state-appointed receiver for the ranch and the adjacent Galileo Project property, sought to shed itself of the ranch, citing significant costs in maintaining the property. Regulatory Resolutions is run by Thomas McNamara.
After a canceled first attempt, the ranch will go to Aaron Mamann for $2.1 million, though Mamann’s interest in the ranch was not disclosed. In addition, Mamann has offered $900,000 and provided escrow for the 1,024-acre Project land, which will be scheduled for court-approved sale in a separate motion at a future date.
According to an update from the receiver, the sale was opposed by both Accelerated Assets and by Thomas Maney, who stands accused by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (formerly Department of Business Oversight) of helping to orchestrate a $30 million land sale fraud between 2011 and 2019.
Proceeds from the sale will pay for the receiver’s accrued costs and help start reparations for those investors who lost money in the scheme, according to the receiver. While the receiver ranch itself isn’t part of the scheme and that investors had no stake in it, the receiver stated it insists on providing some repayment to investors.
An injunction was filed against Maney, the Silver Saddle Ranch and Resort, Inc and several others in September 2019, preventing the further sale of land, freezing assets related to the activities. The court later appointed McNamara as the receiver of the ranch and two affiliated entities, Silver Saddle Commercial Development and the Galileo Commercial Property Owners Association.
Both DFPI and the receiver have stated that Silver Saddle Resort was the mechanism by which the land sales were made, facilitating sales events and provided investors with a free night’s stay and tours of the ranch
The receiver’s update states that Accelerated Assets “wanted to postpone any sale of the Ranch so that the Ranch can be used as part of settlement negotiations it wishes to have with the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.”
Numerous investors who bought land in the land sale scheme have opposed the sale, stating that they were promised the ranch and stated Maney had attempted to make amends but was shot down by the court.
Around 40 people protested the sale during an Oct. 25-26 demonstration in front of the ranch’s gates on Aristotle Drive. Spokespeople and legal advocates for the group claim that 3,000 people invested $54 million in land purchases — $24 million more than what the state’s lawsuit against Maney and Silver Saddle Commercial Development cites as being taken from investors.
The receiver said that Maney’s opposed the sale “sale because he wants to propose a joint venture in which the Ranch is included in an agreement between the investors and a third party, Rick Jones.”
Judge Joel R. Wohlfeil’s Nov. 6 minute order approving the ranch’s sale stated that given Maney’s and other defendants’ “purported past conduct in committing fraud, they lack credibility and the Court is dubious that they are now acting in the best interests of the investors.”
Judge Wohlfeil’s minute order also stated that “it is unclear if the purchase offer by Rick Jones was valid or ‘for real.’”
When the ranch and the Gallielo Project land went on the market in May, the broker Kidder Mathew received numerous inquiries about it. In July, the receiver stated it had reached an agreement with Kevin Feterik for $1.77 million and the Project land for $775,500. The sale was scuttled prior to an August meeting, however, when Jones filed a complaint about the marketing process. According to the receiver’s Aug. 5 update, Jones “expressed a concern that he did not have a full and fair opportunity to pursue an offer which he provided to the broker.”
The sale was canceled after an initial objection from Feterik, which he later withdrew and the properties were re-listed for $1.87 million (the ranch) and $919,746 (Project land).
Mamann and Jones both presented bids, with Mamann providing an all-cash offer. According to the receiver’s motion to file, Jones offered $1.8 million for the ranch and $800,000 for Project Land as part of a joint venture proposal with Gallielo Project investors.
The receiver asked Jones’ legal counsel for clarification on Sept. 14, prior to the 10 a.m. deadline for offers, on whether Jones’ offer was contingent on the joint venture. When Jones did not respond prior to the deadline, the offer was rejected based on the appearance it being contingent on the joint venture.
The following week, the receiver was informed that Jones’ offer wasn’t contingent on the joint venture, but the deadline had since passed; the receiver said Jones was welcome to make an offer through the broker but nothing came.
According to the Nov. 6 minute order, Judge Wohlfeil’s minute order stated that Maney’s involvement in the joint venture “does not appear to be realistic, and the Court defers to the Receiver's judgment that the proposed sale is the best way to protect and preserve the assets for eventual distribution to the injured investors.”