The city has shut off water to the Club West Golf Course for nonpayment of bills and a partner in its management company has sued the owner and the general manager, alleging mismanagement, misrepresentations and “wrongful and unlawful conduct.”
William Day and Club West Golf Management last week filed suit in state Superior Court against the Inter Tribal Golf Association, its founder Richard Breuninger and course general manager Christa Jones.
The suit says Day – in return for a 40 percent stake in the management company – loaned Breuninger and the association $250,000 and invested an additional $100,000 that helped them purchase and reseed the course last fall.
The suit accuses Breuninger of making misleading statements about the prospects of finding cheaper water for the site and accuses Jones of “financial mismanagement, fraudulent operation and possible embezzlement.”
It claims Brueninger and Jones mishandled the management company’s finances and that “the water utility bill has been unpaid for at least three months and that there are insufficient funds in the operating account of Club West Golf Management to pay the delinquent water utility bill which exceeds $200,000.”
The water was shut off about two weeks ago, “causing an immediate and substantial and irreparable threat and injury to maintenance of the golf course,” the suit states, adding:
“The golf course is immediately becoming ‘brown’ and will shortly be completely unplayable, resulting in nearly total loss of use to Club West Golf Management of its most valuable asset.”
Breuninger declined immediate comment, saying he is preparing a presentation for the Club West homeowners association board and that his lawyer is preparing to answer Day’s lawsuit. Jones did not return a call seeking comment.
Day had sought a temporary restraining order that would have forced Jones and Brueninger to show him all financial and other records related to the course’s management.
But last Thursday, March 1, Judge Dawn Bergin denied the request, stating that Day not present support for his allegations – or “any specific evidence of an intent by Jones or Breuninger to divert any funds that may be available” to pay the water bill.
“No affidavit has been provided stating that the golf course will lose its value due to lack of water if the court provides defendants an opportunity to be heard,” Bergin stated, calling the restraining order request “overly broad, unclear and does not provide sufficient notice to defendants of what they just do and what they may not do.”
Only three months ago, Brueninger, a lawyer with degrees in fine arts and American Indian studies from Arizona State University, seemed to have transformed a course that in 2016 seemed to be on life support.
A small group of residents two years ago had launched an effort to buy the course because former owner Wilson Gee was reducing irrigation, saying he could no longer afford costly potable water from the city.
At one point the city had shut off the water, causing the fairways to brown and the lake to dry up.
Brueninger in 2012 formed the Inter Tribal Golf Association, a network of 63 tribes nationwide that own a total of 110 golf courses.
He developed the concept of “seasonal reciprocity,” so that a club member at one of those courses could play at another member course anywhere in the country.
The lawsuit says Day loaned the money after Brueninger represented to him “that through certain inter-tribal relationships he and/or the Inter Tribal Golf Association could guarantee that a permanent water source for the golf course would be secured from a local tribal provider at rates that would be substantially lower than available from” the city.
The suit also says Jones in January made three withdrawals from the management company’s accounts totaling $28,100 “for unidentified purposes” and accuses her of “financial mismanagement, fraudulent operation and possible embezzlement.”
He also said Jones “has now failed to show up for work, has abandoned the golf course and its operation and has, after draining the bank account, told Plaintiff Day that she is ‘done.’”
“Jones, however, has refused to provide Plaintiff Day with banking account records and has refused to comply with the request to disclose complete company books and records, leaving Day with no ability to protect his and Club West Golf Management’s interests,” the suit states.
The suit also accuses Brueninger and the Inter Tribal Golf Association of issuing illegitimate securities as collateral for the loan, failing to pay more than $5,300 in state sales taxes and hiring employees “without appropriate accounting.”
It also says Jones and Brueninger gave Biscuits a three-year lease on the clubhouse restaurant and bar for a lump sum payment of $100,000 even though they purportedly told Day the lease would generate a $10,000-a-month rental payment over that time period.