Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Sportsplex Financier Links To Disgraced CFO
According to a February letter of intent, the proposed McHenry County Sportsplex has to raise $8 million before its underwriting company will issue $18 million in County-approved federal stimulus bonds. Chicago immigration lawyer Taher Kameli heads Chicagoland Foreign Investment Group, manager of McHenry County Sportsplex EB5 Fund, the majority owner of the Sportsplex. In an interview published Sunday in the Northwest Herald Kameli said that would be easy since he'd raised $8.5 million for something called Aurora Memory Care Center.
The website for Kameli's CFIG lists the facility as a "closed project", however, Edward Sieben, Aurora's Director of Land Use and Zoning told FEN Monday it's not closed, in fact it hasn't even started. "There's really nothing that's been submitted to the City," he said.
David Dorgan, Downtown Development Specialist for the Aurora Economic Development Commission said the project was only in the discussion stage. "We've barely started the process," he said. "We don't have an agreement. We haven't reviewed the site."
Secretary of State's records show a company called Aurora Memory Care, LLC, was opened in late October, 2009, under the management of Kameli, Chris Randall, co-head of an assisted-living management company in Michigan, and Terry Gaouette.
Gaouette appeared with Sportsplex head Lou Tenore when he first asked McHenry County for the stimulus bonds. However as FEN earlier reported, he's the former Chief Financial Officer of the Milwaukee Public Museum who burned through $4.5 million of endowment money paying day-to-day operations until there wasn't enough left in the coffers to meet payroll. Although County and Lakewood village officials said they thought Gaouette was an expert on sports facility financing Tenore told FEN in February he was just a consultant on artificial grass.
Dorgan said he didn't recognize the names of Kameli and Randall but said he did know Gaouette.
The Secretary of State's records list Gaouette as the contact agent for Aurora Memory Care at 125 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 300, Chicago. That address turns out to be a "virtual office". A woman at its Utah rental firm, DaVinci Virtual in Salt Lake City, declined to release any information about its tenants. However, a DaVinci salesman said the company provided a range of services to clients from a simple mail drop ("We're regulated by the Post Office") to phone services and real offices and conference rooms at an hourly rate. He said a typical DaVinci location had 20 clients.
A search of phone records revealed 14 people or companies listed at 125 S. Wacker, Suite 300. None of them was Aurora Memory Care or Gaouette. No phone for either could be found in the Chicago area.
Kameli couldn't be reached for comment Monday. His office said he was "out of the country all week." Randall was in a meeting and didn't call back. Tenore, too, was in a meeting Monday evening and said he'd be unable to call back later.
In the pic: Aurora Memory Care lists an office in this prestigious Chicago building. It's a virtual one, apparently without a phone.