Suit includes allegations that Wayne Pierce diverted millions of
dollars for ‘his personal benefit’
Gilroy – A former business partner is suing Wayne Pierce, a San Diego-based developer looking to build on thousands of pristine acres south of Gilroy known as Sargent Ranch, in the wake of a failed $40-million land deal in Contra Costa County.
The suit, filed in recent weeks in Contra Costa County Superior Court by rodeo Hall of Famer Jack Roddy, includes allegations that Pierce secretly diverted for “his personal benefit” millions of dollars intended for Roddy Ranch, a golf and housing community they partnered to create in the county’s northeast reaches. Roddy also accuses Pierce of using $80,000 in funds earmarked for Roddy Ranch to further development efforts related to Sargent Ranch.
Pierce, who called all of Roddy’s allegations “baseless,” is now working with one faction of the local Amah Mutsun Indian Tribe to develop the thousands of acres of rolling hills and streams that make up the tribe’s ancestral lands. Those efforts include lobbying local congressmen for legislation that could speed up the tribe’s recognition as a sovereign government, freeing them to establish a land trust and give Pierce development rights to 3,000 acres. County officials have blocked Pierce’s past efforts to build golf courses and hillside homes on the land, but they would have no authority to regulate development on tribal lands.
In the complaint, Roddy’s attorneys demand that Pierce open up the books for the Roddy Ranch project for a full accounting of how all the money was spent.
Pierce said, however, that Roddy’s own accountant filed tax returns for the project.
“I don’t know how much more open you can get than that,” he said.
He added that the partnership agreement he signed with Roddy does not allow for litigation on such matters.
“This lawsuit filed by Mr. Roddy is in direct violation of our existing contract which specifies that an arbitrator will settle all disputes between members,” he said, referring to the operating agreement for Roddy Ranch LLC.
He said he filed a petition with the court to force arbitration on the matter.
Roddy’s attorneys may claim, however, that their partnership agreement became null following a bankruptcy settlement at the beginning of the year.
Clement Glynn, an attorney for Roddy, did not return a call for comment.
Pierce said that their joint limited liability company “is not a dissolved entity. It is a legally operating, though now dormant, LLC. It’s not gone.”
The Roddy Ranch project became the focus of inquiries by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service as one in a series of land schemes perpetrated by a real estate financier Pierce and Roddy hired to help raise funds for their development.
Pierce’s Sargent Ranch project also has come under federal scrutiny.
This week, a congressional subcommittee is expected to report its findings on claims of fraud in the Amah Mutsun Tribe’s politics. The results of those findings could determine the fate of Sargent Ranch and Pierce’s eventual right to develop.
A federal watchdog agency for the U.S. Department of the Interior has also launched a parallel investigation into the matter.