- CFO Brent Miller allegedly told multiple Vaquero Club Boards of Directors over many years that the club had no debt.
- Falsified documents were provided to board members for years.
- Miller allegedly revealed to board members that not only did the club have millions of unreported debt, but that there were not enough cash reserves to cover operating expenses in the near future.
Vaquero is one of the most exclusive private residential communities in the country, but even that couldn’t keep alleged financial problems at bay.
The nearly 20-year old community was built on portions of Nelson Bunker Hunt’s Circle T Ranch, which was later snapped up by Ross Perot Jr., and then sold to San Francisco-based Discovery Land Company in 2000. There are 330 properties, of which only 30 are available. The names of residents who have perched homesteads in the gated, 525-acre community are legendary.
They include our former Secretary of State and former CEO of Exxon, Rex Tillerson and his wife, who bought Vernon Wells’ place. Then there’s Glenn Beck, who loves the security, with a mammoth $5 million home built by Cy Barcus for golfer Brant Jobe in 2004, currently listed for sale. Celebrity name residents also include the Jonas Brothers family and parents and Kevin Jonas, Sean Payton (house had a disco ball), Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Chuck Greenburg, Vanessa Swarovski, Ben Crane, K.J. Choi, Todd Hamilton, even Tiger Woods‚ ex- golf instructor Hank Haney, Mark Teixeira, Jason Garrett, and Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz.
In Vaquero, a 5,000-square-foot home is considered a villa, and even those are priced at $1.8 million. Most home spreads are priced at $2.5-plus million.
Forbes named Vaquero the most affluent neighborhood in the United States in 2011, and Vaquero is also extremely secure: guards at the gates check licenses and sometimes keep them until you leave. A real estate agents’ brother, who was looking after his listing, was once even tracked by police, stopped on Highway 114 for driving slowly by a house inside Vaquero’s massive gates.
But the Vaquero Club has big problems right now.
Seems that members have just been notified that the former Chief Financial Officer, Brent Miller, has not been truthful “on a series of accounting and financial matters.”
Miller has allegedly been cooking the books since 2008, and now the club is seriously in debt to the tune of almost $5.5 million. Members are being charged an emergency assessment of at least $7,100:
On February 19 Vaquero Chief Financial Officer Mr. Brent Miller contacted Vaquero General Manager Mr. Todd Huizinga to reveal that Mr. Miller had for some time been misleading Mr. Huizinga, previous Vaquero General Managers, and the current and past Boards of Directors on a series of financial and accounting matters. Mr. Miller, who has served at Vaquero since 2008, revealed to Mr. Huizinga that this pattern of deception had been going on for years, and his deception also related to the true financial position of Vaquero – including the Club’s cash balances and debt.
The Vaquero Club underwent a massive $15 million remodel a couple of years ago, though nothing has been mentioned (yet) about irregularities stemming from that. Allegedly, Mr. Miller’s “cooking” left about $2.5 million in debt that will have to be paid off pronto. From the email that was sent to members Thursday:
The total amount we must have to put Vaquero on a sound financial footing is $5.4 million. $2.5 million of this overall amount will go to immediately pay off Vaquero’s debt that has been incurred as a result of Mr. Miller’s deception. The remaining $2.9 million will provide the financial resources we need to run Vaquero through the end of the fiscal year which ends in June. To derive the assessment amount, consistent with Vaquero’s bylaws the $5.4 million was split between Vaquero golf and social members consistent with the allocation of annual dues. Social members will pay 50% of a golf member assessment. Each golf member will be required to pay an assessment of $14,304.64, and each social member will be required to pay an assessment of $7,152.32 — along with applicable taxes.
At one time, the price for a golf membership at the Vaquero Club started at $60,000; these days an equity membership goes for at least $150,000, plus nearly $17,000 in yearly dues. That gets you a driving range long enough to hit inward from both ends; a lake stocked with bass, bluegill, and catfish; and a 33,000-square-foot clubhouse with a bar, dining rooms, full spa, and card rooms. The club has 350 golf members and 60 social members and a six-month waiting list.
Brent Miller’s profile on LinkedIn describes his job thusly:
“Designed and implemented controls, policies, and procedures for a 600 acre primary home private development community in year 8 of operation that includes an eighteen hole Fazio design championship golf course, Fish Camp, Spa Services, and Fitness. Supervised a staff of two, managed accounting procedures for A/P, A/R, a $5 million annual payroll, a $11 million annual budget, a $400,000 inventory, and maintained accountability for $3 million in cash.”
It’s clear the nine-member board, the general manager, and the finance committee were struck by surprise. Vaquero is a community of highest-level executives who have wasted no time implementing a full, independent investigation. One of the independent advisors, Jim Wilkinson, of TrailRunner International, offered no comment. All that is clear at this point is that $5.4 million is missing, and board members may have been misled by fake financial documents.
The full letter to members is below, as well as the letter from Vaquero Club member Craig Jung to members, and his letter to the board in 2014 warning of insufficient financial controls. There will be more to this story in the coming days, with a town hall meeting scheduled for Sunday: stay tuned.