Pasolivo purchased by Newport Beach family

Olive oil business and property west of Paso Robles were owned by convicted money lender Karen Guth

jhickey@thetribunenews.comNovember 14, 2012 

Pasolivo's tasting room in Paso Robles.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

A  Newport Beach family has purchased the Pasolivo olive oil business and its surrounding 131 acres west of Paso Robles, a big step in the court-ordered liquidation of convicted money lender Karen Guth’s assets to pay back victims of a Ponzi scheme.

The property and business were purchased for an undisclosed sum by the Dirk family, which owns Troy Group Inc. Headquartered in Costa Mesa, the group specializes in manufacturing and product development of specialty toners for printing, software and specialty inks out of a facility in West Virginia.

The group’s president, Brian Dirk, said the family had been looking for the past five years to buy a business on the Central Coast.

“We visited Pasolivo and absolutely fell in love with the property and its products. … Coming from Orange County, when we arrived, it was just a breath of fresh air,” he said.

Pasolivo and its property at 8530 Vineyard Drive were part of the personal assets of Karen Guth, who was president of collapsed Paso Robles lender Estate Financial. Guth and her son, Joshua Yaguda, were sentenced in December 2009 to 12 and eight years in state prison, respectively, for defrauding tens of millions of dollars from more than 1,000 people.

County records show that the Pasolivo business is assessed at $403,000 and the property is assessed at $1.4 million, though property tax assessments do not necessarily indicate market value.

Dirk said that the group paid more than the assessed amount but would not elaborate.

The award-winning Pasolivo business has remained open and self-sustaining throughout the Estate Financial ordeal under the court-appointed receivership of Geringer Capital of Beverly Hills, which handled the sale. A spokesperson could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Interested buyers had to pass two rounds of bidding for the property and its business, according to previous Tribune reports.

The Dirk family hopes to build on Pasolivo’s farm character, with its 45 acres of organically grown olive trees, on-site olive mill and wild turkeys, to create a tourist destination. Pasolivo is a boutique, small-yield producer that sells directly from its tasting room. Dirk does not expect to generate profits quickly, but rather views Pasolivo as a longer term investment.

 “This is a project we are going to invest in and grow over time,” he said.

Dirk hired longtime friend Cheryl Wieczorek of Paso Robles as Pasolivo’s general manager. Wieczorek was chief financial officer of Justin Winery of Paso Robles for 13 years.

Plans include additional orchard planting, equipment upgrades for the oil pressing operation, remodeling of the tasting room, and development of a full line of olive oil-based bath and beauty products.

Dirk will also transform the homes on the property — one 3,000 square feet, another 5,000 square feet, and a 600-square-foot “casita”— into upscale vacation rentals.

The property was originally named Willow Creek Ranch by owner and filmmaker King Vidor, who lived there until his death in 1982, according to a news release. Pasolivo was founded in 2000.

Deputy District Attorney Steven von Dohlen said that once the remaining Guth assets have been liquidated — including Guth’s portion of a Ninth Street office building in Paso Robles and personal property such as furnishings and vehicles — the money will be distributed to the victims.

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