Guinn Rode in Style Despite Debts

The son of Governor Kenny Guinn, Jeff Guinn, hasn’t made a payment in years to investors on loans he made to himself through his company, Aspen Financial.  The state revoked Aspen’s license in June because it was insolvent.  But despite his financial difficulties, Guinn has been paying Mercedes Benz Financial Services $1300 a month on a 2012 Mercedes GL450.  He made the payments until October,  when he filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.

Guinn claims he doesn’t have any money to pay thousands of investors, some of whom lost their life savings when Guinn and other borrowers stopped paying on loans.  Still, he was able to get a $77,000 car loan in August of 2012, according to bankruptcy court filings.  He’s agreed now to give back the car.

How does someone who already owes investors, banks and the FDIC millions in defaulted obligations get a car loan of that size?

Clearly, that’s the difference between me and Guinn.  I just don’t get high finance.

Former Governor’s Son Exempt from Law?

The son of former Governor Kenny Guinn says his company didn’t have to obey the law during a time when his father was governor.  Guinn is being sued by investors who allege he defrauded them out of millions of dollars through his now-defunct company, Aspen Financial.  In a deposition I’ve obtained attorney Dennis Prince, who represents investors Donna and Chuck Ruthe, questions Guinn, who not only claims exemption from the law but ascribes powers to the Legislative Counsel Bureau it does not possess.  

Q: Before accepting the money, did Nevada law require Aspen as a hard money lender to have the investors sign any documents or disclosures?

A: There was a lot of change on that I think in ’06 or something like that.

Q: What do you mean ’06?

A: I think that’s when they put that law into effect.

Q: What law?

A: The statute.  What you just said.

Q: Okay.  So in 2006, Aspen was required to give the written disclosures to the investor and have them sign it before –

A: Well, Aspen wasn’t required.  But was that a statute within the new laws when they changed them, yes.

Q: Well, it’s Aspen’s obligation to comply with those laws. Right?

A: Yes.  But that law was supposed to be changed because it was not feasible with all the hard money lenders.  And it was something that was causing a tremendous problem with the State, because you have people that were out of town and signing documents maybe afterwards.  And they knew that wasn’t feasible, and they were supposed to have it changed in the LCB after the  Legislature.  And I think that at the time they were in between commissioners and it didn’t get done. 

Q: So you’re saying that a law went into effect that later was supposed to be changed?

A: Yes.

Q: Did that relieve you of the obligation to comply with the law’s requirement?

A: The State was not enforcing it , and with any mortgage company because it created a terrible problem that you couldn’t do business. 

That law in question was passed in 1999, not 2006, and was in effect for the majority of the time Aspen was in business.  

The Mortgage Lending Division knows of no outcry from mortgage brokers unable to comply and says at no time did it suspend enforcement of the law.  

The Ruthes plan to present evidence that Guinn failed to follow the law, 

Gender Card Maxed Out

Remember Helen Reddy? “I am woman. Hear me roar. In numbers too big to ignore.” She had the right idea. For 1973.

Forty years after Reddy sang that refrain the world of politics remains populated primarily by men.

“It’s a man’s world and it’s inherently sexist,” Jon Ralston noted as we discussed congressional candidate Erin Bilbray’s appearance Wednesday night on Ralston Reports.    Bilbray almost reminded me of Reddy when she declared during the interview “I am a woman!”  But the sweet smell of estrogen quickly turned sour.  Bilbray twisted herself into a pretzel trying to explain an earlier allegation that Congressman Joe Heck’s fundraising email in response to her candidacy was “an attack on women.”

I know an attack on women when I see one, and after inspecting Heck’s message, I don’t see it.  Or anything even close.  It’s almost as if Bilbray in a July 3 radio interview, two days after announcing her candidacy, was intent on playing the gender card, even though it had no place (at least yet)  in her possibly winning hand.

Bilbray makes her living preparing would-be female candidates to emerge from their kitchens, mom vans and shopping malls and make their ways to local, state and national capitals.  Admittedly, I’ve never walked a mile in their heels, and while I admire their courage for treading into that male-dominated land, I can’t help wonder if the gender card should be left at home, collecting dust in an old purse.

Maybe it takes an organization run by women for women to get women to run for political office.  But in my mind the mere act of segregation renders us separate, perceived as not entitled to equality.

Firsts are important.  My friend Virginia Valentine was the first female Las Vegas City manager, first female Clark County manager and is the first female president of the Nevada Resort Association. Barbara Buckley was the first female Speaker of the Nevada Assembly.  Both are highly accomplished and respected.  But I’ve never observed either play the gender card, nor note their trailblazer status.

Maybe the best way to level the playing field is to ignore the tilt.  Eventually the sheer weight of all of us, “in numbers too big to ignore” will result in a cosmic shift.

In the meantime, let’s give Ms. Reddy a rest and cue Lady Gaga.  I was born this way.

Ross Miller – Ready to fill Masto’s Heels?

Ross Miller – Ready to fill Masto’s heels?

It’s widely known that Secretary of State Ross Miller (son of former Governor Bob Miller) hopes  to be Nevada’s next attorney general, the person charged with upholding the law.  But upholding the law is something Miller has done selectively in his current role.  Allow me to explain.

If you’ve ever been required to have a document notarized, you know the role of notary – the person with the stamp – exists for one reason: to ensure you, the signer, are who you claim to be.

Anyone needing a document notarized must appear before the notary.  No exceptions.

So I was surprised to hear a few weeks back about a conversation Miller had with a woman named Donna Ruthe.  Ruthe and her husband, gaming and real estate veteran Chuck Ruthe, are suing Jeff Guinn (son of former Governor Kenny)  and his now-defunct Aspen Financial for millions of dollars owed from what the Ruthes and other plaintiffs claim were investments steeped in fraud.  I’ve been covering the case and others against Guinn for more than four years.  I’ve also been wrongfully accused by Guinn of accepting money and favors from Ruthe and others in exchange for covering the story.

Last year I reported that Guinn’s Aspen Financial, in violation of state law, notarized investor documents outside the presence of the investor.  While it may not seem like a big deal, investors claim  in court documents the practice facilitated the alleged fraud perpetrated by Guinn.  What’s more, all five of Aspen’s notaries have failed to produce their notary journals (which they are required to keep for seven years) for the civil lawsuit.  The Secretary of State’s office fined two of the notaries mentioned in the story, but took no action against Aspen.

Fast forward to earlier this summer, when Ruthe, during a conversation with Miller about his political plans, noted her dissatisfaction with the Secretary of State’s failure to sanction Guinn, who Ruthe believes should be held responsible for the failure to produce the journals.

Ruthe mentioned to Miller my report on a New York woman who provided receipts proving she was in New York, not Las Vegas, on the days Aspen notaries swore she appeared before them. In fact, New Yorker Kimberly Casey told us she never set foot in Aspen’s offices.  Miller, according to Ruthe, said he remembered the story and that Casey told his investigator she gave Aspen permission to notarize outside her presence.  OK, set aside for a moment the fact that Secretary Miller, according to Ruthe, seemed to be endorsing an illegal act.  It appeared a correction was in order on my part.

Why, I wondered, would Ms. Casey have changed her story?  Turns out she didn’t.  In fact, Casey says she’s never been contacted by any investigator.

So I called Secretary Miller, who told me he couldn’t remember what he told Ruthe in the conversation two weeks earlier, but texted me the number of his Securities Administrator Diana Foley, who he said briefed him before his talk with Ruthe.

Ms. Foley first said she had to discuss the matter with Miller.  The next day she phoned to say under Nevada’s confidentiality laws information obtained in investigations cannot be disclosed.  Hmmm.  So, I asked, how could Miller talk with Ruthe?  Is the Secretary not bound by the same laws?  Yes, but Foley told me Ruthe is an interested party.  Well, so  am I !!  What, I asked, is an “interested party”?  Someone interested in contributing to Miller’s campaign?  And what law exempts “interested parties” from confidentiality rules? I can’t find one.  I’ve asked the Secretary of State to inform me, but he has not.

Nor is he saying why he thought it was OK for notaries to nullify their reason for existence by “getting permission” to execute a document outside the presence of the signer.  Seems like a minor infraction, right, Mr. Miller?  In fact, robo-signers did  it all the time.  That worked out well.

Case Dismissed!

It took a year and a half and ten judges to get a hearing, but yesterday Clark County Judge David Barker dismissed the only lawsuit ever filed against Face to Face with Jon Ralston/Ralston Reports (now in our 13th year).  Barker, undoubtedly swayed by the legal eagles at Campbell and Williams, ruled claims by the girlfriend of former Judge Donald Mosley,  Tawanna (T.K.) Crabb, did not arise to defamation.


Crabb took exception to my reporting of how she regained her foreclosed home… noting in her claim that the bank agreed to a settlement, approved by Judge Jesse Walsh.  Indeed, while other Las Vegans were mired in foreclosure, it was Crabb’s own recounting of how Walsh granted Crabb her home free and clear after the bank had wrongfully foreclosed that piqued my interest in the story.  And in a failed lawsuit against the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Crabb stated in pleadings that she had won (not settled) her lawsuit against the lender. A review of the court records revealed Walsh was required to approve the settlement.   Here’s a link to the segments.

Guinn/Aspen attorneys among BK creditors

Jeff Guinn’s Aspen Financial owes creditors between $10 million and $50 million, according to the company’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.  The company reports assets between $500,000 and $1 million.  The only secured creditor – the law firm of Bailey and Kennedy, owed $728,000 by Aspen/Guinn.  But Aspen’s insurance appears to be picking up a good chunk of the attorneys’ invoice.  

State revokes license of former governor’s son

The mortgage lending company owned by Jeff Guinn, son of former Governor Kenny Guinn, is a danger to the public and does not conduct business in accordance with the law. Those were two of the reasons cited by a hearing officer for the state of Nevada today who revoked the license of Guinn and his company Aspen Financial. Hearing officer Dean Gould also issued the revocation because Guinn failed to appear for the hearing, which Guinn requested, and because Aspen and Guinn are insolvent. The state suspended Guinn’s license in April, when it learned he owes City National Bank a judgment of close to 8 million dollars for unpaid loans.


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