OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) — There are more complaints against an Oceanside investment company and the man in charge of that business.
Team 10 has spoken to several investors who said they gave thousands of dollars to the Pacific Teak Reforestation Project, managed and developed by Pacific Management Group. Ron Fleming is listed as the founder and chairman of the board on the company’s website.
The website states the Pacific Teak reforestation project “provides individuals, businesses, and institutions around the world the opportunity to build their financial future, while saving one of the earth’s most precious and scarce natural habitats: the tropical rainforest.”
According to the company’s sales plan, investors paid for teak trees in Costa Rica, which would eventually be harvested and sold for timber.
A certified letter shown to Team 10 listed 18 investors that demanded Fleming return their money for a project they said did not deliver. That letter was delivered to Fleming’s Oceanside home this summer.
“No one’s ever seen a dime,” said investor Michael Tillman, a Navy veteran who lives in Maryland.
"He befriended you first," added Greg Robertson, who currently lives in Rome, Italy. “[Fleming] got your confidence, your trust. Everything. Then he betrayed you.”
Mark Baker, who lives in Arizona, said he grew up with Fleming. He said he invested more than $200,000 with Pacific Teak. He has yet to see any of his money.
“I’ve had to come up with a plan B for retirement,” Baker said.
Another investor, Virginia Hitchcock, met Fleming in 2004.
“The way that he positioned it was that the investors would pay for the trees and the land would eventually be rededicated to the rain forest,” says Hitchcock.
She invested close to $300,000 in this green project. According to the contract, trees were ready for harvest “at the end of the 15th year.” Hitchcock said she heard nothing when that time came.
“I had faith that he would ... not cheat us out of the money that we invested,” Hitchcock said.
Fleming told Team 10 he retired in 2013 due to health reasons. He said Hurricane Otto in 2016 caused “catastrophic damage” to the project. However, multiple investors said Fleming never informed them about his retirement or any hurricane damage until after they pressed him for answers.
Hitchcock, now in her 60s, did not know what to do.
“I just, I thought if I called the FBI, they would just laugh at me because I had done something so stupid, and gullible, and trusting,” Hitchcock said.
Other investors did report Fleming and Pacific Teak to the FBI, although the agency could not confirm any investigation.
There was an investigation by the state through the Department of Business Oversight, now called the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation. The state issued a desist and refrain order in 2016 against Fleming and his company. It also found Pacific Management Group did not have a proper permit to operate and said the company “never gave investors the profits promised” listed in their agreements.
A spokesperson with the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation could not comment on any investigation related to Pacific Teak. However, he said desist and refrain orders are like probation and, “any discovery of further violation would result in an additional response.” That response could include fines, penalties, or criminal referrals.
The spokesperson added that they strongly encourage anyone with concerns about Pacific Teak to file a complaint with their department.
Fleming would not agree to an on-camera interview with Team 10. His attorney said Fleming did not do anything unethical in relationship to Pacific Management Group. In an email, attorney Dominic Amorosa added: “I am not sure whether you can find any investor in the United States who believes that an investment must necessarily be successful notwithstanding any foreseeable or unforeseeable events.”