Biz Buzz: Convicted Orcutt embezzler faces sentencing

Michael Lee Wilson, the lender from Orcutt charged with embezzling $14 million from investors in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, will be sentenced Friday.

Wilson, the former owner of the defunct Pacific Coast Mortgage, pleaded guilty in October 2009 to 59 felony counts of grand theft, one for each victim, many of them elderly. Since entering that plea, he’s been in custody in Santa Barbara County Jail, awaiting sentencing.

Wilson was originally charged with 147 counts, including selling a security under misrepresentation, grand theft and forgery. The additional counts were dropped in exchange for the guilty plea.

As part of the plea deal, five years would be subtracted from Wilson’s prison sentence for the first $1 million he provides to authorities as pay back to the victims he has admitted to scamming. Another five years would be subtracted for the second million dollars he turns in to investigators. No more than 10 years can be taken off Wilson’s 20-year sentence.

So far, victims say Wilson has made no efforts to repay any money.

“Mike knew that I was a single mom with one disabled son, said Valerie Williams of Santa Barbara. “He knew that I took care of my elderly, sick parents for 16 years. Yet he stole from me in the very months my parents passed away, when I was most vulnerable.”

She said she lost $2 million.

On Friday, more victims are expected to address the judge to give personal accounts about how the ordeal has affected them. The hearing will be held in Superior Court in Santa Maria.

— Stacy Daniel

New coffeehouse targets students

Kreuzberg, Ca, San Luis Obispo’s newest coffeehouse, located at 870 Monterey St., aims to bring a bit of Europe to downtown.

Named after the Kreuzberg neighborhood in Berlin, Kreuzberg, Ca, serves up more than just coffee. The space, once the location of Muzio’s Deli, has been transformed into to a mix that’s part coffeehouse, restaurant, used bookstore and art gallery.

The shop’s hours of operation are just as unusual as its interior design. Open from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m., Kreuzberg, Ca, offers students a place to study into the wee hours.

“When I was a student at Cal Poly, I had to go to Denny’s if I wanted to drink coffee and study late at night,” said James Whittaker, the owner of Kreuzberg, Ca. “It’s always been in the back of my mind that people want this. I just didn’t know how successful it would be.”

— Stacy Daniel

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