The 220 acre parcel was supposed to be an expansive golf course ... 18 holes designed by Jack Nicklaus with 780 luxury homes inside a gated community. A lot of people bought into the dream of the Running Horse Golf and Country Club, some plunking down their life savings for a chance to live in one of the most exclusive parts of Fresno. So when word of Tom O'Meara's arrest and indictment came down ... many of those investors were relieved.
Ray Rendon and his wife were one of the first couples to jump at the chance to be a part of Running Horse. The Rendons bought a parcel in track 5206. A neighborhood right across from Running Horse ... with a future view of the golf course. "We've lost an easy $90 thousand ... something like that."
Rendon says it was three years before his home was finally complete. "This is long overdue, if it was anybody else who had done it they would have been caught and served a long time ago.
The federal indictment says O'Meara ... a former real estate developer from Carmel ... defrauded numerous private investors out of $16 million. He's was arraigned on 32 counts of conspiracy, wire and mail fraud and money laundering.
Harlan Kelly a west Fresno businessman gave Tom O'Meara $385 thousand cash as an investment on a home on the Running Horse golf course. "This was a perfect con game. They never intended on building a golf course. He moved dirt. He built three of the golf courses ... he sat down and wined and dined the people and he sold lots that didn't even have parcel numbers.
Gary Vigen who was the architect for Running Horse lost $400 thousand of his own money on the project ... but he doesn't believe O'Meara purposefully bilked anyone out of anything. He says O'Meara just got in over his head. "I think the two big things they did wrong was they bit off a project that was too large for them ... they're not experienced developers."
Tom O'Meara was arrested Tuesday at his home in Palm Desert ... after his arraignment he was released back to his home and put on electronic monitoring. He will make his first appearance before a federal magistrate in San Jose this Friday. As for the Running Horse property ... the 220 acres are selling for just $2.5 million.