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Wednesday's death of restaurateur George Munger at age 69 has brought back memories of his link to J. David Dominelli, San Diego’s most notorious Ponzi swindler. In the early 1980s, Piret’s was the place to be seen for up and coming San Diego politicos and nouveau riche. He and wife Piret Korkmann had opened the Perfect Pan in 1974, just before the real estate boom created a growing rogue class of developers and speculators who, having made millions of dollars in dubious activities, needed somewhere to flaunt it. When it opened in 1979, Piret’s provided the perfect outlet for the big spenders who flocked to the tony French bistro.

One loyal customer was J. David Dominelli, who “invested” more than $100 million that he collected from greedy and gullible locals in mysterious foreign currency trades. Dominelli was jailed in 1984 when his Ponzi scheme fell apart and it was subsequently revealed that he had lavished money on such things as getting Roger Hedgecock elected mayor and making a $150,000 personal loan to Munger, who said he used the cash to expand his burgeoning restaurant and gourmet gift shop empire.

The Union reported that the money didn’t have to be paid back for ten years. “It was a long-term personal loan -- it was not a business investment,” Piret Munger told the paper, adding that the couple had met Dominelli through Dominelli’s girlfriend Nancy Hoover, the ex-glamour girl and Del Mar mayor who, like Dominelli, would later go to prison for her role in the J. David Ponzi scheme. The Mungers said they also consulted for Vittorio’s, a posh Del Mar restaurant and watering hole that Dominelli set up as a plaything for Hoover.

In August 1985, J. David bankruptcy trustee Louis Metzger sued Munger to obtain repayment of the $150,000 principal and $62,792 interest on the loan. By then Munger’s restaurant operation had been sold to Denver-based Vicorp Restaurants. Munger told the L.A. Times that the matter would be resolved in due time. "It's just a process of getting (them) the money.”

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Comments

Mrs_Abbott_was_right April 24, 2009 @ 1:51 p.m.

George Munger isn't dead for 24 hours and you're breathlessly dragging back up a long ago association with one of SD's more notorious scammers. You're all sunshine and class Don.

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realnews April 24, 2009 @ 2:23 p.m.

I suppose crooks are classy?

Or others devoid of reality?

Then you'll love the comment from the judge. http://www.10news.com/news/19265275/detail.html

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SurfPuppy619 April 24, 2009 @ 3:32 p.m.

George Munger isn't dead for 24 hours and you're breathlessly dragging back up a long ago association with one of SD's more notorious scammers. You're all sunshine and class Don.

By Mrs_Abbott_was_right

Besides, if Munger was not a scammer his name would not make news for scams.

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JustWondering April 25, 2009 @ 8:01 a.m.

Although I rarely agree with oldmanSurf, on this one I must. The whole J. David era in San Diego was ushered in by those consumed with greed.

Nancy Hoover, J. David's lover may have donated lots of money to charitable causes, but she did with stolen money and personal vanity and community stature, nothing more. She and others are morally void.

It's obvious greed was the overwhelming driving force for Mr. Munger and others during this time, just as its been over the last few years.

The only imformation left out in from the blog by Mr. Potter, was whether Mr. Munger made full restitution, or as is true with many deadbeats, he ignored his moral obligation to repay the debt. If that's the case, then he can burn with the rest of the unrepentant, fame seeking losers.

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Ponzi April 25, 2009 @ 9:43 a.m.

In complicated frauds like the J. David scheme, most of the money recovered goes to lawyers anyway. So who cares if Mr. muger paid it back. He probably accepted the loan in good faith and since the term was for 10 years, that agreement should have been honored by the bankruptcy trustee with a 120 month payment plan or a discounted principal pay back.

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SurfPuppy619 April 25, 2009 @ 7:07 p.m.

So who cares if Mr. muger paid it back. He probably accepted the loan in good faith and since the term was for 10 years, that agreement should have been honored by the bankruptcy trustee with a 120 month payment plan or a discounted principal pay back.

By Ponzi

A loan with no interest is not made in "good faith", by either party.

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Visduh April 26, 2009 @ 8:59 p.m.

The U-T obituary raved about the successes the Mungers had as restaurateurs. Maybe so, but there is scant evidence of the long-term acceptance in San Diego of their cuisine. Oh, I have pleasant memories of meals at Piret's, and some very nice food. I also remember that some of the things they offered sounded mouth-watering on the menu, but did not deliver.

I think the overall story of that couple and their restaurants was one of a failure to deliver consistently. One might wonder why that was true. Could it have been that they were a short-lived fad, one of so many that have come and gone in San Diego? And might some of that been caused by distractions, such as "a loan" from Dominelli? I'd long wondered at the rapid fading of Piret's soon after they were sold, and the fact that afterward we heard little from the Mungers.

It is hard to say for sure, but funding and support from some less-than-reputable people could have given them their early successes, and then taken it all away.

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monaghan April 30, 2009 @ 6:26 p.m.

I thought Piret's was an attractive and reasonable place to have great soup, salad, bread and wine for lunch with friends and I was sorry when it closed.

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