GOP Bigwig David Lack Faces Fraud Trial

Accused of Lying to Banks, Swindling Conservative Activist

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
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Prosecuting attorney Brian Cota didn’t merely throw the book at David Lack, a prominent Santa Barbara building contractor with five-star connections all the way to the top of the Republican food chain, he’s thrown an entire library at him. If Cota gets his way, he’ll begin court proceedings against Lack this Friday on charges that Lack lied to two banks — the Bank of Santa Barbara and Rabobank — in order to secure $1.2 million in loans beginning in 2007 and that he ripped off $241,000 from Montecitan Mary Belle Snow, a conservative blogger and high-profile activist.

David Lack
Click to enlarge photo


David Lack

Lack told the banks he owned real estate in Santa Barbara and in Texas that could be used as collateral when, in fact, he did not. The trial would have started last week, but Lack had surgery for skin cancer. When the surgeon was done, Cota had Lack arrested and jailed on a whole new set of charges — operating as a contractor even though his license had been revoked, failure to pay taxes, and failure to make workers’ compensation payments. He’s also threatening to file a third set of charges, alleging Lack “stole” $1.4 million because he did $1.4 million worth of work on a Montecito estate representing himself as a licensed contractor when in fact he was not.

As Cota explained in court Monday, every penny Lack took constituted theft because he falsely represented himself as a licensed contractor. Last Friday, Cota went even further, demanding that Judge Jean Dandona slap Lack in jail and set bail at $700,000. He argued Lack posed a threat to public safety because he’d repeatedly violated the terms of his release, established in 2010, when charges were first filed. Dandona balked, setting bail at $200,000 instead. Even so, Lack spent the weekend in jail.

David Lack (left) stands behind then presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani (Sept. 27. 2007)
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman (file)

David Lack (left) stands behind then presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani (Sept. 27. 2007)

The David Lack who walked into court Monday morning to argue his bail amount was a far cry from the political macher seen in the many photographs lining his office walls, posing with former Republican presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W. Bush. Likewise, he was light years from the tall, lean, and friendly man-about-town who in 2008 squired New York mayor Rudy Giuliani — then seeking the Republican presidential nomination — around Santa Barbara. Or the even younger man — fresh from Iowa — who broke onto Santa Barbara’s political scene in 1990 as right-hand man to Michael Huffington, then a carpetbagging Texas billionaire with a million-watt wife, who “bought” Santa Barbara’s congressional seat that happened to be occupied by longtime incumbent Bob Lagomarsino.

Instead, Lack entered court Monday morning forced — like all jail inmates — to take mincing baby steps by the chains connecting his ankles. He was dressed in County Jail scrubs and wore jail-orange rubber slippers and jail-orange socks. His face was blotched red where he’d used Nair in lieu of a razor.

During his glory days, Lack had concocted credible dreams of major development where the MTD’s downtown transit depot now stands. He worked on plans to create a whole new city spanning the nether space between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. But in 2007, the economy tanked largely because the nation’s banks had been heedlessly selling improperly secured loans, like Lack’s. When Lack couldn’t make payments, his banks asked the questions they should have posed in the first place. When he still couldn’t pay, they sued. And the house of Lack came crashing down.

David Lack and Mary Belle Snow, far right (September 2008)
Click to enlarge photo

David Lack and Mary Belle Snow, far right (September 2008)

At the time, Lack insisted he was the victim of a bad economy. He had planned to start his own bank and solicited $300,000 from the Mary Belle Snow, a forceful conservative tight with David Horowitz, the reformed left-wing radical turned incendiary right-winger. When Ty Warner was still trying to rebuild the Miramar — and remodel the Coral Casino — the Beanie Baby billionaire had no more passionate champion than Snow.

Lack and Snow — married to Grammy-award-winning songwriter Tom Snow — had once been close friends. But, say associates of both, she was the wrong person to cross. According to court documents, Lack spent $241,000 for his own ends. On what exactly, Cota has yet to explain. If and when the case eventually goes to trial, presumably he will. Lack’s attorney, Robert Sanger is moving for yet another trial extension, citing Lack’s health.

How Judge Dandona rules, Lack will find out Friday. But this Monday, he won some small respite. Dandona set the bail for the two separate cases combined at $220,000, far less than what Cota wanted. A friend and employee named Fae Perry put up her own property as collateral so Lack could get out for yet another meeting with his surgeon. If convicted on all charges, Lack could face a maximum sentence of 14 years.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

The charges over being an unlicensed contractor are really dumb unless he represented himself to a client as such.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 12:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Is being a Republican supporter in the past on trial, or are current dirty financial dealings on trial? Article was confusing.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 8:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If this accused film-flam guy is convicted, I say right on!

I get so weary of well to do people essentially ripping off the unsuspecting to keep feather their nest. This guy's nest sounds like it was pretty comfy.

I wonder if he's going to use the skin cancer excuse to be out of jail? I've had many of those removed & trust me, you can actually walk & breathe when it's over. Start the violins. Hah!

Barron (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 8:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Gee, this conservatard is on the wrong side of everything, ain't he. May his upcoming sentence pass -s-l-o-w-l-y.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 9:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)

He is a living example of a "traditional American value", if you are not cheating you are not trying hard enough.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 10:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

He is still representing himself as a general contractor on his website:

He is so screwed!

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 11:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Cheating is not an American value, or a Judeo-Christian-Islamic value. Thou shalt not steal nor bear false witness is a bedrock of Western civilization. A government of laws created American exceptionalism.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 11:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This nation is based on cheating and theft. We stole the land and cheated on thousands of treaties with Native Americans. Our colonial economy was based on stolen people that we turned into draft animals. That was a long time ago. Need something more current? How about the cesspool of lies and false witness during the GW bush administration? How about those WMD's? How about the wanton destruction of another nation based on those lies. Take off your American colored glasses.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 11:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

So what should we do about it? Elect liberal Democrats?

Botany (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 11:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Why do people justify present transgressions with past transgressions?

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 11:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

True Jarvis. I heard so many times during the recession that we should "bail out" the middle class with a make-work jobs program because we also bailed out the big banks.

Using a mistake to justify another mistake is a common response that people have.

Botany (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 12:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Jarvis there would be no America without cheating. I am certainly not trying to justify this blowhard Lack's crimes. He is a scamming hypocrite like most of the GOP leadership.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 12:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

White guilt kids, it's all about white guilt. If you're white and don't feel guilty then you're not politically correct and if you're not politically correct, well, we know what that means.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 12:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No Botany, the correct argument was that it would have been better to bail out the middle class than to bail out the big banks, not that both should have been bailed out. In other words, instead of the government giving the banks money for the bad loans, why not give it to the people who had the bad loans to help pay off some of those loans so they could remain in good standing?

The healthiest solution would have been to bail neither out, let prices fall and have housing and other things become more affordable. But giving the big banks money for luring unsuspecting people who have little financial knowledge and taking advantage of them then kicking those victims of the recession out onto the street while rewarding the profiteers was ludicrous and one of the largest thefts that has taken place on the American people.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 12:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There is an America. It is a beacon of enlightenment throughout this world because it is a government of laws. View Dinesh D'Souza's upcoming movie "America" with an open mind.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 12:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ha Dinesh D'Souza are you serious? He is a serial lier and a convicted cheater / criminal. He and Lack are two peas in a pod. Thank you Jarvis for proving my point.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 12:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The housing crisis started because the government tried to social engineer the housing market, which required lenders to go well outside the prudent business operation zone.

The government set up the banks to fail. No problem that the government was later forced later to bail banks out. The government ignored all early warning signs this was going to crash. Lessons about social engineering need still to be learned because they always carry with them the law of unintended consequences.

The government is in fact the combination our elected representatives and the large administrative agencies they regulate.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 12:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you Hershel, for proving mine.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 12:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What was your point o factually challenged one?

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 1:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sure, prosecute Lack, but, I don't like it when I hear things like this:

>>>alleging Lack “stole” $1.4 million because he did $1.4 million worth of work on a Montecito estate representing himself as a licensed contractor when in fact he was not.

Come on! He didn't steal the money if he performed the work. Most of that must be expenses. It's just that sometimes prosecutors, by acting like this, seems almost as bad as those they are prosecuting.

justbobf (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 1:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@Herschel: Yes, his web site says General Contractor, but NOT Licensed Contractor. So, I think he is clear there, now.

justbobf (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 1:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Uh nice try justbobf. In California you cannot call yourself a general contractor unless you have a license. Unless you have a license you cannot enter into a contract for any type of construction. As I said he is so screwed.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 1:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Uh nice try justbobf. In California you cannot call yourself a general contractor unless you have a license. Unless you have a license you cannot enter into a contract for any type of construction. As I said he is so screwed."

Just because you want to kidnap people and put them in cages because they don't go through some bologna inventive bureaucratic process when they never hurt anybody doesn't make it right.

Let the property owner sue them if they felt that they mis-represented themselves, but if they are happy with the work or if they were made aware that he was not officially licensed then I see no problem with it.

I should have every right to hire an unlicensed contractor to do work on my property and anybody who buys my property in the future has the right to inspect any work that was done before they buy it.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 2:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Not true Herschel. You can contract without a license as long as the job is not for over $500.

Botany (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 2:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You have the right Loon, but the contractor doesn't. (unless the job is for $500 or less)

Botany (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 2:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Pfft so Lack could legally contract to build what, a doll house for less than $500.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 2:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Good lord people, they caught a crook and he will most likely go to jail over it. Who gives a hoot if he leans left or right, he is a crook.
Would that we could arrest some of the other crooks out there instead of calling names in here.

sslocal (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 2:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

To prove that there's more crooks on the right than the left of course. Was that case made?

Botany (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 2:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ok let me rephrase, I should have every right to hire an unlicensed contractor and they should have every right to perform the work and be paid without facing prosecution.

Licensing should be done by private organizations on a voluntary basis. I'm not against the idea that contractors should have the ability to perform the work they are doing I just don't want the government to be in charge of it.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 2:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Uh the point of the article was how the mighty former GOP honcho, Lack, has fallen.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 2:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If one needs to reach back to Michael Huffington to be called a GOP honcho, there are few decades that are missing. Who can forget Lack's gratuitous Transit Center design? Lack had no local traction.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 3:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Uh wrong again Jarvis. Up until recently Lack was a member of the Santa Barbara Republican Leadership Council. He no doubt is also a Culpepper crackpot Teahaddist as well.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 3:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The story is that a guy who contracted with SB County, Ventura County, City of Simi Valley, etc. didn't have a license. (And isn't there any egg on those governments' faces for not checking?) I don't understand what Lack's past political life has to do with anything.

ooshea (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 3:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"The story is that a guy who contracted with SB County, Ventura County, City of Simi Valley, etc. didn't have a license."


loonpt (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 3:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Please re read the article. Lack had a contractor's license that was revoked. So you trolls will have to find a different anti government angle to this story

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 4:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That doesn't change anything Herschel. Either you worship the government or you don't.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 4:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Uhhh he had a license when he contracted with local governments so your loling about those entities not doing due diligence is misguided. I worship the almighty and nothing else, not the wisdom weed, not government, not free will, nothing else. How bout you?

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 4:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Please more information about the Santa Barbara Republican Leadership Council. I found no reference after 2007. What local role does it now play?

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 5:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Surfing is the only true religion.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
June 25, 2014 at 6:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So these banks loaned this guy money based his assertion that he owned real estate as collateral yet the banks failed actually collect proof that he owned the real estate? Unbelievable!

buckwheat (anonymous profile)
June 26, 2014 at 8:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Maybe we should all wait to hear all the facts before we pass judgement. I have met and spoken with David Lack in the past. He has always been very friendly and helpful. He is not a friend and he would not know me on the street but the little exchanges I have had with him have all been positive. There are too many things mentioned in this story that make it seem like a witch hunt. He is accused of stealing money for doing a job without a contract. That is not stealing. If he had not done the work and had taken the money it would be stealing. Accused of fraud by bank.. really then so are so many other people during that time period when loan officers baited homeowners into putting the "Right info on loan applications" with a nudge and a wink. The bank should have verified ownership of homes at the time. Bank of America tried to get my mom to take out a 100,000.00 second mortgage on her house that was paid off. She is retired, living on a small pension and SSI and told the loan officer that she would not be able to ever pay off a loan that big and said she would not take out a loan. He again encouraged her to do it but she walked out of the bank dismayed. Did not have a contractors license? I doubt he did all of his work without a contractors license especially all the big city and county jobs. Perhaps his license lapsed during a time period when the economy was tight and money was tighter. Most general contractors I have known go in and out of being licensed at times because their fees have lapsed. Feast or famine is the norm for contractors especially when they are doing high end properties and the economy tanks.
A threat to public safety? Really ?? Is he hold up in Kinkos holding the cashiers as hostage? Those charges and accusations should be reserved for a real threat. It all makes me think there is something wrong with the big picture here. Yes, he probably lied a few times. I am sure he needs to deal with that with some sort of fine but prison?? not unless you want to put everyone that ever lied on any loan application and every bank in prison along with him.
Why is his personal medical information in the article? Is that not against Hippa privacy laws? The article could and should have just stated that he was taking care of a health or medical issue. Something is fishy about this whole case.

yourpersonalrn (anonymous profile)
June 26, 2014 at 9:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The intent of the article was to cast guilt by association, due to his GOP party affiliation. Welcome to the SB Independent. Where partisan bias always trumps journalistic integrity, providing a safe haven for fired NewsPress employees.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
June 26, 2014 at 9:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Lack's real crime in SB?
Being a supporter of the political right.

As usual, Nick Welch proves that he's a left-leaning pundit, not a journalist. He simply can't "report" a story without infusing it with personal opinion, lame attempts at irony, or his profoundly awkward and far-from-pithy syntax.

If supporting Michael Huffington (surprising that Welch didn't remind us that Mike only came out of the closet after his divorce from that insufferably prolix, over-perfumed star-f*cking Greek wife who only divorced him pursuant to his political defeat) is meaningful to this story, then Lack is going to get 30 years at the hands of the local judiciary...all of whom dance to the tune whistled by that ridiculous clown Joyce Dudley.

Beachgirl77 (anonymous profile)
June 26, 2014 at 12:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I've nothing against David Lack, it's some of his supporters here I'd throw to the lions. They cry partisanship while advocating in a partisanal way. What a buncha clowns.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 26, 2014 at 1:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

well, at least one can write here and not only vehemently disagree, but tear the writer a new one without fear of being censored.

try writing the newspress to comment on peter lance. or any other np slimeball. see if that sees the light of day.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
June 26, 2014 at 1:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Politics aside, the fraud and deception by Mr. Lack were paramount in the decision to prosecute. He thought no one would be watching the mundane aspects of his deceit such as licensing, workman's comp insurance and general liability insurance.
Without a contractors license these critical coverages are not in place. If there is an injury or death on the project the full liability of the loss falls on the property owner. . .not a fair deal for the homeowner if he must bear the burden of, say, a million dollar payout on a death or injury.
This also a main reason your Doctor, Dentist, CPA, Stock Broker etc. are licensed. . .in case of a mistake, death or injury.

robocob (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2014 at 1:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Politicians have been swindling Conservative and Liberal activists for years, why is this guy special?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2014 at 1:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The writer has done a very laudable job in sifting through the evidence presented as to the criminality of Mr. Lack. David Lack thought his elevated position in the community would shield him from suspicion. . . that his past connections with the political elite would carry the day and insulate him from close scrutiny. He was wrong, catastrophically wrong for him. To raise the hue and cry and bring corruption into the light, you need only one voice in the darkness. . . a persistent and unyielding voice. . .we'll see who's voice that turns out to be and how many dominoes fall before it's over.

robocob (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2014 at 10:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

David Lack meet David Prenatt...and JarvisFOOJarvis, get over yourself. Thanks for this probing, thoughtful piece. Can't you or Melinda Burns do some muckraking on Paramount Farms based on interviews with Arne Sjovold [see Voices]?!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
June 28, 2014 at 11:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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