Claims totaling $1.15 million brought against trader's estate
Jul 04, 2012 (Yakima Herald-Republic - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Two months after Dan Gaub's mysterious death in a motorcycle crash, some details are beginning to emerge of a shadowy investment world in which he claimed to be a "living legend."
Over the past three weeks, 15 claims totaling $1.15 million have been filed against Gaub's estate in Yakima County Superior Court. When interest is added, the figure rises to nearly $1.3 million.
The claims follow persistent rumors that Gaub was somehow active in high-risk foreign currency trading -- possibly with other people's money -- talk that began after his death May 4 in a motorcycle collision with a semi-truck west of Yakima.
Eight of the claims were filed on behalf of clients represented by Paul Larson, a veteran probate attorney from Yakima.
In an interview late Tuesday, Larson said it's his understanding that most of his clients come from the same congregation in Yakima -- Stone Church -- that Gaub attended.
Larson stressed that the mere fact of claims being filed against the estate does not mean "anybody did anything wrong or anybody did anything right."
"Hopefully it's all above-board, it's all a big misunderstanding, there's money there," he said, adding, "but we can't sit on our hands."
In May, the FBI raided Gaub's suburban Englewood Avenue home.
To date, the nature of the FBI raid remains unclear. On Tuesday, a spokesman for FBI regional headquarters in Spokane said the agency is not ready yet to make an announcement.
The Washington State Patrol also has yet to say what caused the crash that killed Gaub, the 53-year-old son of evangelist Ken Gaub. A records request for 911 calls associated with the crash has been denied twice on the basis the crash -- which occurred two months ago today-- remains under "active investigation."
The manner of his death -- accidental or suicide -- also remains undetermined pending toxicology tests.
According to court records, Gaub's widow, Dawndee Johnston Gaub, was appointed personal representative of the estate two weeks after the crash. Her husband died intestate, meaning he had no will.
The probate filings reported the estate as "exceeding $1 million" with debts of less than $100,000. Dawndee Gaub is listed as an heir, along with the couple's two sons.
Until the claims began showing up three weeks ago, the only previous sign of anything amiss with the estate was a lawsuit filed early on by a couple from a suburb in Tacoma over a $75,000 loan.
All told, the 15 claims now on file range in size from a low of $500 from a woman in Terrace Heights to one for $493,000 from a limited liability company called King Investments.
King Investments' claim includes a cashier's check for $150,000 payable to R&R Investments purchased by Larry Hull, a Yakima property manager and owner of the landmark Larson Building. R&R Investments was also named in the Tacoma lawsuit.
A man named Steve who answered the phone there Tuesday declined comment. "I don't think we want to be in any stories on this," he said.
Documents submitted by Larson don't describe why claimants are seeking repayment from the estate or the nature of their relationship with Gaub. Larson said Gaub and his clients had "agreements and understandings."
Several of the claims included a contract-like "Certificate of Record" between Gaub and some claimants that describes the document as an "agreement" to be "considered among friends."
These agreements typically involved tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes beyond six figures, according to court records. The agreements are not described as investments.
"If opportunity arises, we will do our best to grow it," the agreement reads. "No promises are made or implied."
According to an affidavit in support of a West Valley couple's claim, the couple expected interest on their $95,000 claim to accrue at the rate of 4 percent per month. As a result, they sought $88,424 in interest.
Asked about the obscure nature of the agreements, Larson conceded "there are issues there."
It did not appear from the court records that Dawndee Gaub currently has an attorney. Her original attorney, Patrick Shirey, withdrew early on, and nobody else has filed notice to replace him.
Shirey said he was forced to withdraw due to a conflict of interest. He declined to be more specific.
"You saw how many claims there are," he said. "It's going to be difficult for any attorney in Yakima to ... Yeah."
--Chris Bristol can be reached at 509-577-7748 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisJBristol.
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