David Weyrich says Villa Toscana wedding deposits are in the bank

David Weyrich, former owner of the tony Villa Toscana inn, which fell into foreclosure, said Wednesday that brides and grooms who had booked weddings there can get their deposits back from funds under Heritage Oaks Bank’s control.

But the bank’s executive vice president, Bill Raver, said Tuesday that Heritage Oaks was not holding Villa Toscana’s deposits and cash receivables. Nor is it preventing Weyrich from paying out that money “in any way.” Raver would not comment further when asked Wednesday to respond to Weyrich’s position.

Weyrich’s Martin and Weyrich Winery accounts, which Weyrich said Wednesday could be used to pay back the brides, are being overseen by a court-appointed receiver at the bank’s request. Any such payments typically would have to be approved by the receiver.

The Tribune has fielded a number of complaints by Villa Toscana customers who claim the bed-and-breakfast inn has not returned their deposits despite not being able to guarantee their weddings.

Villa Toscana closed Friday and was part of a foreclosure auction Monday held for several high-profile holdings that had been owned by Weyrich.

Mary Allegretta, who handled the weddings for the hotel but was let go by Weyrich on Friday, said Villa Toscana had about 12 weddings on its calendar and unreturned deposits of about $33,000. She has no information on how the deposits will be returned, she said.

In a rare e-mail communication with The Tribune late Wednesday afternoon, Weyrich said Villa Toscana deposits are being held by the bank.

“Our funds from the Villa were deposited with the winery and in fact over $200,000 in the last 6 months went into the Heritage Oaks Bank Account. Heritage simply does not want to pay the brides their deposits back,” he wrote. “They have control over the cash and they currently are sitting on $232,000 dollars.

“We will do what we can to try to get their deposits back; however the bank is controlling the funds,” Weyrich continued. “They want to publicly tell the brides they are not responsible because they do not want bad publicity. We are telling the bank they need to release the funds to the brides.”

Weyrich did not respond to subsequent inquiries from the Tribune about the matter.

Raver said Tuesday that Heritage Oaks did not have any such deposits. “I want to reiterate. The bank does not have those funds — I want to make that very clear,” Raver said.

The Tribune has learned that Heritage Oaks sued Weyrich last year for more than $4.5 million that he owed the bank from overdue loans on a revolving line of credit.

According to the lawsuit, Weyrich had pledged as collateral for the loan all the accounts receivable for the Martin & Weyrich winery, all cases and bottled goods, all rights to use the Martin & Weyrich Winery and York Mountain Winery labels, his Edna Valley Jack Ranch Vineyard, his residential property on Creston Road in Paso Robles and “certain crops and cattle.”

The bank alleged multiple creditors had usurped its security interest and asked the court to place a receiver, Tom Cook, to take over Weyrich’s winery accountings, records, cash and other receipts, in order to preserve the bank’s collateral and to “pay the bills,” the complaint reads.

Weyrich and the bank reached a settlement out of court in September, the details of which have not been made public.

Cook has not returned numerous calls by The Tribune for comment.

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