This March 26, as in years past, San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders filed an annual Statement of Economic Interests, required under state law, listing something called Maxxum Equity Fund, which the statement identifies as a “hedge fund.” The mayor’s ownership stake was said to be in the form of a partnership share, with a fair market value of between $10,000 and $100,000. According to the statement, it was held at least through the end of 2009, the reporting period covered by the filing. But last year, Maxxum principal Jeffry Wetzel of Poway filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation after 77-year-old investor James Meredith filed suit in superior court here, claiming he’d lost $90,000 in the fund.
As Don Bauder reported last December, Wetzel didn’t pay his defense lawyer or show up for hearings, and the court moved to award a default judgment against him. Wetzel “pleaded poverty from the get-go,” Eric Benink, Meredith’s first attorney, told Bauder. “The judge got fed up and allowed us to take default.” A disgruntled investor from North County who didn’t want to be identified said she’d lost $135,000: “I have been saying, ‘Jeff, I have nothing; show me where the money went. All I have is your telling me I have nothing.’ He provided no documentation.” Somehow, though, based on his recent filing Sanders seems to have kept his investment. He didn’t respond to phone calls regarding the matter.
On November 30, 2009, Meredith filed an action against Wetzel in bankruptcy court, alleging the fund was “nothing more than a classic Ponzi/Madoff scheme.” A response filed December 21 on behalf of Wetzel by San Diego attorney Deborah Garvin denied the charge and said Wetzel had “fully explained the type of investment which was being made and the risks involved, including providing plaintiff a Subscription Booklet for Maxxum Equity Fund, LLC, which explained the investment and risk involved and which plaintiff signed.” Last week Garvin declined comment regarding the matter. A pretrial status conference has been noticed for April 15, but could be delayed, according to Meredith’s attorney.
Meanwhile, the mayor’s disclosure report also reveals that his wife, Rana Sampson, an ex–New York cop and former director of public safety at the University of San Diego, received between $10,000 and $100,000 from the San Diego Center for Children, where the website identifies her as senior director of development and marketing. According to the San Diego Business Journal, donors to the center have included Sempra Energy, Cox Communications, and Wells Fargo bank. Many of the donors have had business before the City. State taxpayers also contribute to the center’s budget. In addition, Sanders reported that Sampson earned between $10,000 and $100,000 from her consulting outfit, Community Policing Associates, which was valued at between $10,000 and $100,000.