SAN DIEGO (Legal Newsline) - Western Financial Planning Corporation and owner Louis Schooler were accused Sept. 4 by the Securities and Exchange Commission of operating a $50 million real estate investment fraud.
The SEC alleges Western organized partnerships to buy vacant land in Nevada and hold for sale at a profit at a later date. The company sold units of these partnerships but Schooler and Western allegedly failed to tell investors that they were paying an exorbitant mark-up on the land, in some cases more than five times its fair market value.
Schooler and Western also failed to tell investors that the land held by the partnerships was often encumbered by mortgages that Western used to help finance the initial purchase of the land, the SEC said.
It is also alleged that since the spring of 2011, Schooler paid "hush money" to silence investors who discovered they had been defrauded, allowing the scheme to continue.
The SEC seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions, appointment of a permanent receiver, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and financial penalties.