While driving down Tremainsville Road, I could not resist taking this photo, which makes a statement of pathetic irony about the toppled house of cards that once was the real estate empire of John Ulmer and the Westhaven Group.
For those unfamiliar with the business model of the Westhaven Group, the company used investor monies to buy dilapidated properties, make modest improvements, and sell them to sub-prime buyers at double-digit interest rates. The company, later found to have committed securities fraud, had $16 million in assets and owed some 280 investors $28 million by the time it was shut down by the state in 2005.
Court-appointed receivers Gerald Kowalski and John Czarnecki, in their report to the state, noted that "insolvency, new investor money financing payment to earlier investors, high rate of return, commingling of funds, eventual collapse of the enterprise" were indicative of "the classic Ponzi scheme."
I'm not sure what the Ulmers are up to these days, and for all I know they might be checking out North Carolina land for sale. John Ulmer still has his website that touts his seminars, and Ulmer bills himself as "the #1 mentoring coach in the nation."
The headquarters of the Westhaven Group, which was once a nursing home facility, sits in West Toledo waiting for a buyer, slowly falling into disrepair as investors hope a few more nickels roll in to cut their considerable losses from disgraced moguls John and Scot Ulmer. Cold winter winds made the empty flagpole out front clang like a tolling death knell for the company, and I walked back to my car feeling like I was observing a train wreck.