Has A New Ed Okun Arrived On The 1031 Exchange Scene: Vesta Strategies LLC Staggers From Wall St. Journal Story

In another apparent blatant rip off of 1031 exchange investor funds, Vesta Strategies of San Jose, California “has closed its doors, leaving investors scrambling to recover millions and pointing to flaws in the largely unregulated industry” according to the Wall Street Journal report “Behind the Boom and Bust of Real- Estate Player Vesta.”

Do we have another Ed Okun 1031 Tax Group on our hands?

The Founders

Chicago businessman John Terzakis and partner Robert Estupinian were the principles at Vesta Strategies. They founded Vesta in 2004 amid a firestorm of legal problems

History

According to WSJ’s Kris Hudson’s report:

“Mr. Terzakis had a history of failed real-estate deals and soured relationships — information Mr. Terzakis isn’t required to disclose to potential clients. Now the two men are accusing each other in separate lawsuits of diverting millions of dollars from Vesta for personal use.”

The Losses Sound Familiar

Christina Pappas a California investor, a familiar story to the “Trainwreck Victims of Ed Okun”, is out $2.5 million she handed to Vesta in April 2008 from the “sale of a property.”

When Ms. Pappas found a replacement property, another building, to purchase within the IRS’s 180 day exchange period, she requested her funds be wired in order to close the deal. To her utter horror, but familiar to the people following this industry, Ms. Pappas maintains that the “Vesta representative failed to wire her money to complete the property exchange by the June 16 closing, and still hasn’t done so”

The Numbers

According to WSJ story, Mr. Estupinian was quoted as saying that “Vesta Strategies held $10 million to $30 million in client money at any one time.” Okun like no, but no small sum of money in any case

Vesta Infighting And Meltdown

In a scene worthy of Ed Okun, the two principles Terzakis and Estupinian ended up in court with Terzakis initiating the legal action.

Mr. Terzakis allegations included

1. Estupinian misappropriated several million dollars of Vesta’s money for his family’s use

2. $96,000 salary for Mr. Estupinian’s wife, who allegedly did little work for the company

3. Expenditures on a $1.3 million house

4. A $160,308 oceanfront apartment in Long Beach

5. $50,000 for a pair of dogs-doesn’t everyone have $50,000 twin dogs?

6. $42,795 in tuition toward Mr. Estupinian’s doctorate degree-education is expensive

The Countersuit by Mr. Estupinian

1. Embezzlement of about $25 million and the following quote by Mr. Estupinian:

“Beginning as far back as 2000, John Terzakis has been treating the client funds as his own personal piggy bank in order to fund his many personal business and development projects”

Final Final

If this does not sound like the Okun case it certainly sounds like a close facsimile to it. The bottom line for Ms.Pappas and fellow investors serviced by Vesta Strategies could be the same fate suffered by Okun victims: no return on investment, IRS nightmare tax bill, and the prospects of a lost retirement fund spent in a lavish lifestyle befitting a crook

Okun Indicted On 27 Counts: Is Okun On Suicide Watch?

Ed Okun and accomplice Lara Coleman, somebody the mystery caller mentioned months ago as “going down”, face a 27 count indictment as handed down and reported by Gerald McHale this past week. The indictment laundry list of counts:

1. Wire and Mail Fraud Conspiracy: Count 1
2. Money Laundering Conspiracy: Count 2
3. Wire Fraud: Counts: 3-15 (1343)
4. Mail Fraud: Counts: 16-18 (1341)
5. Money Laundering: Counts 19-21 18 USC & (1956 (a) (1) (A) (i))
6. Money Laundering: Count 22 18 USC & (1956 (a) (1) (B) (i))
7. Money Laundering: Counts 23-25 USC & (1957)
8. Bulk Cash Smuggling: Count 26 31 USC & 5332
9. False Declaration: 18 USC & 1623

In the face of this indictment, the fact reported by Mark Heschmeyer that one of his buildings (Shreveport) has natural gas deposits valued at $30-60million-something he can’t touch, and the possible collapse of his marriage and network of friends, it is rumored that Ed Okun has been placed on suicide watch.

Here is one of the only pictures available on the internet of Ed Okun (far right) during a press conference announcing the sponsorship agreement with Foyt Racing. Photo courtesy of Foyt Racing.

Note: This conference was in 2006 long before it was public news that Ed Okun’s wealth was derived from the ponzi scheme known as 1031 Tax Group and affiliates:

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10 Chracteristics Of A Great Realtor: If You Don’t Have These Skills You Are “Selling” Yourself Short

FoxBusiness.com published this deansguide article July 7, 2008

Please read this article then refer to this fantastic historical blast through Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 by Mike Wesch

What do you do if you are ready to address a new prospect and the first thing out of their mouth is: “I don’t know if I really need a Realtor”? Are you prepared for that statement or have you comforted yourself with the idea that 99.99999% of the consumers at large understand the value of a Realtor during a real estate transaction?

The Idea Simply put you should think of your job as:

1st an educator

2nd a sales person

Sales Perspective #1

NEVER ASSUME anything. Consider the idea that you should have the attitude that you need to sell your prospective client on the benefits of representation. Do not think that just because they found you, they are sold on paying you thousands of dollars for the priviledge of doing business with you

Help them understand the safeguards YOU bring to the table in these shaky economic times and era of mortgage meltdowns

Safeguards?

1. You are an expert at contracts, interpreting contracts, and explaining all aspects of the contract to clients

2. You are the informational expert for your county, city, town, region, or neighborhood

3. Although you do NOT have to be, you are an EXPERT in mortgages, appraisals, and credit issues. If need be you could perform your affiliates job with ease

4. You understand home inspections and their importance

5. You have a “team” of affiliates who have the same “educator-expert-sales” approach

6. You are a technologist and understand the marketing importance of blogging, Google search, and viral marketing tools for maximum exposure

7. Your broker supports your efforts 110% with real world marketing-ads in local, regional, and national publications (when necessary)

8. You are AVAILABLE to answer questions

9. You have connectivity aka you are networked into the communities political structure, industry hierarchy, and familial community outlets

10. Your reputation is your calling card. “It’s who knows you-NOT who you know” that counts

Networking Tip #11: Non Profit-Charitible Organizations’ Powerful “Client” List

In what has long been a high society secret some of the greatest most influential connections can be made while you are performing a great service to your community: charity volunteering.

Simply put associations, non profits, charities, and foundations solicit community business and political leaders for help. The list of volunteers is often a Who’s Who of your area. The help comes in fund raising as well as “substance factor” mentoring.

How Does This Benefit Me?

If you are looking for a place to network and meet your community leaders, business stalwarts, and possible networking partnerships, then volunteering at a well established charity organization is a powerful networking opportunity. Here are the 3 benefits involved:

1. Provide assistance to a worthwhile cause by giving back to your community

2. Network and meet influential networking connections

3. Become a speaker or mentor further advancing your name recognition and public perception

Where Do I Start

1. Begin by visiting your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, and National Foundation (ex-Cancer) for information on the local scene.

2. The best source is the A to Z Charity Listing for the American Institute of Philanthropy at charitywatch.org.

3. Charity Rating System at http://www.charitywatch.org/ratingguide.html is a fantastic report of the top 500 Charities nationwide

4. Local “Society Sheet” is usually contains the favorite charities of your local power brokers, business mavericks, and politicians. A great example of this in my area, San Francisco, is the NobHillGazette.com.

Final Analysis

Even if these kinds of society gatherings make you feel intimidated or uneasy, the possible connections are truly worth a few hours of self consciousness. At the very least, you will providing a service to a good cause and you can report your experience on your blog-website and at local industry meetings.

Okun Victims Notice: Judge Authorizes “Telephonic Participation” In June 11th Fee Application Hearing

According to US Trustee Gerald McHale’s latest notice the following developments have taken place for the upcoming June 11, 2008 Fee Application hearing. This hearing is taking place to review the application for payment of fees by the many entities that are being utilized by the Okun victims in their fight to recover their stolen monies. The following is from McHale’s June 5th notice:

“PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the Honorable Martin Glenn, United States Bankruptcy Judge, has authorized counsel and parties appearing in this case to attend and participate telephonically, via Courtcall, in the hearing to be held before the Court on June 11,2008 at 11 :00 a.m. (the “June 1 1 Hearing”) concerning the First Interim Fee Applications for Allowance of Compensation and Reimbursement of Expenses of (i) Gerard A. McHale, Jr., the Chapter 11Trustee.”

The first round of negotiations of fee applications begins as the monies being sought for victims again take a hit. It seems like everyone wants to get paid but the people most deserving are getting nothing and have lost the most.

Former Ed Okun Interviewee Speaks Out: Most Outrageous Okun Story Yet?

The list of stories about Ed Okun just increased by one with the following candid and eye opening comment left on deansguide. The comment by, Alden Chevlan, a man who was being wooed by Okun’s organization for a position in their legal department is all too familiar. Tons of money thrown around, no business sense, a suspicious lack of business acumen and a sad case of spending other people’s money for fun.

“I am not surprized to read of the demise of IPofA. I interviewed with the company for the number two legal spot in 2006. After a brief visit (less than two hours)I returned to the airport and my home. Shortly thereafter I was offered a position by the HR director, without ever meeting my future CEO (a former paralegal who had worked with Okun’s outside law firm), or Okun. When I inquired about a second interview, my wife and I were flown to Richmond, put up in a lavish hotel, etc, with no expenses spared. The strange thing was that no interview time had been set and the CEO had not taken the time to review my travle schedule. I did meet with her, with barely enough time to return the rental car and catch my flight. She met me in a “poodle skirt” wearing “Queen Bee” fluffy slippers and spent the entire hour on the phone with Okun who was frantic over the disappearnace of his poodle. MY wife met the office staff, which consisted of two of the CEO’s sisters and a handful of seemingly nice people. I never heard from them again and my wife was quite relieved after learning of the CEO’s paralegal background and her staff of siblings. I did get a nice gift bag with a T-shirt, hat, coffee mug, calculator, sunscreen and other objetcs all advertising his Indy racing team.”

From Is This Where the 1031 Tax Group Victim’s Monies Disappeared?, 2008/06/05 at 11:22 PM