In August of 2010, Bill Holthaus approached us to "assist" in providing professional architectural services for the expansion plans of our retail coffee shops. He presented himself as a "retiring" Sr. Director of Global Design for Starbucks Coffee Co. He presented letters of accommodation from the likes of Howard Schultz himself!
In November of 2010, we began to reopen a previously owned and operated Starbucks store located in Temecula, CA. Bill was very versed in "Starbucks Speak" and was able to interpret Starbucks architectural drawings of the store and was of great assistance in preparing for our contractors and builders. Almost right away, Bill was at odds with our cabinet builder; Mr. Vic Mayer. Vic had been a friend of the family, but we trusted in what Bill was saying the job was worth. In the end, our friendship with Vic was destroyed by Bill and I regret that greatly.
In January of 2011, Bill brought to us the "opportunity" to purchase tables, chairs, cabinets and other fixtures from three closed Starbucks locations. This "opportunity" was being presented to him from his supposed superior at Starbucks, Mr. Patrick Lindsay. The cost was $18,000 and the decision had a 24 hour window for a yes or no (we were such suckers to fall for this!). The check had to made out to him and he would pay Starbucks (once again, we were such suckers to fall for this!). We accepted the offer and paid Bill $18,000. We received an email from "Patrick Lindsay" as to the contents of our purchase and were very excited to be able to get these items.
Over the next several months we pored our effort into opening our new store in Temecula, CA. This was the third store in our line up and we were excited about the potential. Every time we asked where our items were, Bill gave us the misdirection and we fell for it (once again, we were such suckers to fall for this stuff!).
As the store was getting ready to open in May of 2011, my brother informed Bill that we appreciated his efforts and services. But, we could no longer continue to compensate him for these services. Over the several months of this build out, the companies financial health had become very bad. Bill found new and creative ways of spending our money to make this situation worse. He was very aware of our financial health and vulnerability. He asked to stay on and help us write a new Business Plan to present to potential investors to improve the financial health of our business. Of course, the first couple of potential investors were through his contacts (once again, I cannot believe we were such suckers!).
We spent the Summer of 2011 writing this 100 page "book". Keep in mind that we are a Family Business (Mom, Dad and three bothers and wives). Our financial blight worsened to the point where we started skipping pays to make sure our employees and Bill were paid! The "Plan" was presented to Bill's investors who replied with an offer of money to erase our debt and fuel our growth, but at a cost of 55% ownership and Bill as the guarantor. Thank God we rejected the offer! At this point, we had still not received our equipment from Starbucks and had begun arguing internally over what to do with Bill.
During this time, Bill also approached us with the desire to acquire 10% ownership for all of his "hard work" and the opportunity to acquire another 10% in the future. We simply stated that we would take it under consideration. Already smelling a rat, we had to figure out how we were going to get our $18,000 back. Bill was NEVER going to get a % of anything in our business!
In September of 2011, one of our customers with three retail locations on US Naval installations, presented us with the opportunity to purchase their locations and that they would stay on with us for several years to continue running these spots. Bill, smelling more cheese in the kitchen, could hardly contain himself over this opportunity and did EVERYTHING he could to force this deal through. His behavior was so poor, that it almost killed the deal because one of the principals was so frightened of him.
In the end, the deal went through and almost immediately Bill began sabotaging the relationship. The final straw was when Bill was unable to obtain security clearance for access to these Naval facilities. They wouldn't tell us why, but we already knew why in our bones. We severed our dealings with Bill Holthaus in October 2011 and have spent the last couple of months trying to get him prosecuted. We hired a Private Investigator to look into Bill Holthaus and the report was painful. Decades of fraudulent behavior and time spent in jail.
In the end, this person is the most pathological individual I have ever met. He is very dangerous in that he has no moral compass and will steal from ANYONE! WE are lucky that all he took was $18,000. His intent was A LOT more!