James B. Catledge is quite a guy. He is a motivational speaker, into real estate and is the head of a couple of marketing companies. He also went into partnership with a Canadian named Derek F.C. Elliott. Together they started an outfit called EMI Sun Village Resort and Spa.
Through Sun Village, Messrs Catledge and Elliott took out a loan in 2005 to buy a hotel in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic which they named Sun Village Juan Dolio Resort. It was an older place and needed some renovations. So, being the wiley businessmen they are, they began to recruit investors through Catledge's marketing firms.
Sales presentations were made. One video pitch was titled, "Real Estate Secrets of the Wealthy." Investors were urged to use their home equities and savings to buy into securities tied to the resort.
Unfortunately for the marks, one of the real estate secrets of the wealthy they weren't told about was that Catledge's firms were taking up to a 44% commission on their investments. Sun Village also failed to fully fund the renovations with the money and in fact used the cash on some other projects and to pay off early investors to keep them happy. This is what is known as a Ponzi scheme, or in some quarters, business as usual.
Investigators, that would be the FBI and the SEC, don't really know where a lot of the money is, however they do know the location of at least $15 million of it. It is sitting in a trust held in the South Pacific nation, Cook Islands. The beneficiaries of the trust are James B. Catledge and various members of his family.
Estimates of the scam range up toward the $164 million dollar mark, although in the indictment, Elliott and Catledge have been accused of fraudulently soliciting a little over $91 million. Both gentlemen are looking at 20 years and fines that are twice the value of the property involved.
The hotel in the Dominican Republic never opened and ended up being sold at auction in 2009, effectively wiping out everyone except Catledge and Elliott.
I suppose I could begin moralizing at this point about greed and avarice and a complete lack of ethics in the business world. I could rail about how Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney want to let slimy bastards such as Catledge and Elliott run around without any government restrictions whatsoever, although government restrictions didn't seem to slow them down in this instance.
I could, but I won't. I'll just mention that in 2008, James B. Catledge donated $100,000 to the Republican National Committee, John McCain's presidential campaign and a couple of other republican causes, one of which was Mr. Romney's failed presidential run. In May of 2008 he and his wife Tiffany attended a little suaret at Mr. Romney's Deer Valley, Utah vacation home that featured George W. Bush. The price of admission was $70,000 per couple. As late as 2010, even after the Sun Village Juan Dolio Resort tanked, he gave California republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman $30,000.
The old saying is that you are known by the friends you keep. I would suggest that you are even better known by the people who give you large amounts of cash.
That is all. Over and out.
(Information contained in this post was gathered from NBC News)