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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

    (213) 894-6947
    thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov



    Return to the 2011 Press Release Index
    Release No. 11-119

    August 18, 2011

    FORMER PRESIDENT OF HURST FINANCIAL CHARGED WITH DEFRAUDING INVESTORS IN CENTRAL COAST REAL ESTATE

    LOS ANGELES – A Paso Robles man was charged today with federal fraud and
    money laundering offenses for allegedly bilking victims who invested into Central Coast real estate projects – money that was siphoned off for other purposes.

    James Hurst Miller Jr., 63, the former president of the Atascadero-based Hurst
    Financial Corp., was charged today in a four-count criminal information filed in United
    States District Court. The four-count information charges Miller with mail fraud, wire
    fraud, money laundering, and making a false statement to a bank.

    The information alleges that Miller solicited investments in the Beacon Road and
    Vista Del Hombre real estate development projects in Paso Robles, as well as the
    Salinas River real estate development project in Templeton, and that the solicitations
    were fraudulent because the funds were not used to develop those projects. The
    information alleges that after obtaining investors’ funds, Miller used most of the money for other purposes.

    The information specifically alleges that Miller failed to disclose that he was using
    new money solicited for the Beacon Road project to make interest payments to older
    investors, as well as to investors in other real estate development projects. Miller also allegedly failed to disclose that he used proceeds from investors in the Salinas River project to pay off loans relating to a different real estate development project, and that money invested in the Vista Del Hombre project was used to develop other real estate projects. Finally, the information alleges that Miller aided and abetted false statements made to Heritage Oaks Bank relating to collateral for a loan application.

    An information contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime.
    Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

    The mail fraud and wire fraud charges each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The money laundering count carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. The charge of making a false statement to a bank carries a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. Therefore, if he were to be convicted of all four counts in the information, Miller would face a maximum sentence of 80 years in federal prison.

    The case against Miller is the result of an ongoing investigation by the Federal
    Bureau of Investigation and IRS - Criminal Investigation. The San Luis Obispo County
    District Attorney’s Office provided substantial assistance in the investigation.

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    ReleaseNo. 11-119
    Return to the 2011 Press Release Index