Daryl E. Sands of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Grenada confirms that Presto refused to buy the stock, and it was sold to a Presto shareholder. He says the bank originally invested in a company named Automated Telecommunications, which, he believes, was later purchased by Presto. But according to Presto's website, Automated was an earlier name for Presto. So the mysteries remain. Sands, who dealt with Vassallo on the matter, confirms that Presto wouldn't buy back the stock, but a shareholder did.
For several months, I have been getting sketchy reports of unhappy Presto investors. They had been told that the company would go public, but now, as Kimble admits, the company has no revenue, "so it has to rely on private equity capital." That's another way of saying the company is selling its stock instead of its services. It's a road to financial perdition. Kimble insists Presto is close to a business launch. But investors have heard that story for years.
There are many questions about Vassallo. He showed up in San Diego in 1994 and tried to worm into a moribund La Jolla telecom company that later failed. Vassallo noted correctly that the company's head was a disbarred attorney. The company's chief financial officer, in turn, called Vassallo "a hustler and tax-shelter promoter." In the mid-1980s, Vassallo lived in Los Angeles, managing the TV acting career of his wife, Rebecca Holden. Vassallo claimed then, as now, that he had made a fortune in oil heading a company named Texploration. I can't find anything about the company, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist or has never existed.
Vassallo and Holden got divorced, and he showed up in San Diego with a new wife, Cynthia. Bobby Vassallo talked big and spent big bucks. The two got on the board of the San Diego Opera. They got their pictures in programs and newsletters as sponsors of an opera.
But, says Ian Campbell, general director of the opera, "The Vassallos pledged $100,000 to our January 2002 production of Verdi's Rigoletto but left the board before paying the full amount."