Accused embezzler’s MDI home for sale

Posted Nov. 24, 2009, at 8:08 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:53 a.m.

MOUNT DESERT, Maine — Federal officials are selling a house and three boats that used to belong to Donald Anthony Walker Young, who is accused of masterminding a Ponzi scheme.

In a civil complaint, the federal Securities and Exchange Commission claims Young, 38, stole $23 million from investors in Pennsylvania-based Acorn Capital Management LLC. The SEC says the Georgia native and seasonal Northeast Harbor resident directly stole money from investors and used some of their money “to pay other investors in the nature of a Ponzi scheme.”

Young allegedly spent some of the investors’ money on himself and his wife by buying a home in Palm Beach, Fla., and to “support a lavish lifestyle for his family, including payments for expenses related to horse ownership and racing, construction, boats, limousines, chartered aircraft and other luxuries,” according to the SEC complaint.

Among the items Young owned were three boats and a 3,100-square-foot home at 30 Tennis Club Road in Northeast Harbor. The boats, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, are an inflatable fabric dinghy, a hand-crafted wooden rowing skiff, and an International One sailing sloop called Sagara.

The boats, the house, and other assets belonging to Young, including a home at 475 Thouron Road in Coatesville, Pa., were frozen by the court when the SEC filed its complaint against Young in April.

Last week, a federal judge ordered that the houses and boats be offered for sale, according to court documents. The house in Palm Beach is not among the list of assets being sold.

The Northeast Harbor property is listed for sale on the Sotheby’s International Realty Web site for $1.3 million. The home has five bedrooms, 3½ bathrooms and three fireplaces and sits on a 1.39-acre parcel within walking distance of the seasonal Northeast Harbor Swimming Club.

According to the town’s real estate database, the house has an assessed value for tax purposes of nearly $730,000. Young bought the house in 2001 for $715,000, according to municipal records.

The Sagara, a 33-foot fiberglass boat constructed in 1983, is being offered for sale through a local boat broker for $72,000, according to information posted at Yachtworld.com.

The Coatesville property also is listed for sale on the Sotheby’s real estate Web site. According to a legal notice published Monday in Philadelphia newspapers, the Coatesville property is being offered for sale for $3.5 million.

In October, 21 horses and ponies and an assortment of horse riding-related equipment that had belonged to Young were auctioned off at the Coatesville property, which is located in horse-centric Chester County.

Catherine E. Pappas, an SEC attorney, said Tuesday that the assets are being sold as a way to raise money to repay Young’s former investors. She said the civil case against Young is not yet resolved and declined to forecast when it might be.

Whether Young also may end up facing criminal charges is up to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and not up to the SEC, according to Pappas.

Young’s attorney in the civil case, Catherine M. Recker of Philadelphia, did not return a message left at her office Tuesday afternoon.

A Fortune magazine article earlier this month detailed some of the allegations against Young and described how the rural Georgia native came to lead such a lavish lifestyle.

According to the magazine, Young was living in Atlanta and was a partner in a business that sold ads for coupon booklets in the early 1990s when he became interested in polo. He moved to Chester County, Pa., in 1998 after becoming proficient in the game and befriending wealthy horse owners who live in the area.

Among the people whose money Young is accused of misappropriating are Milliken & Co. co-heir W.B. Dixon Stroud Jr., who owns a home in Mount Desert with an assessed value of $3.9 million. Stroud, whose main residence is in Chester County, shared Young’s interest and involvement in polo, according to Fortune.

Stroud is listed as a relief defendant in the SEC complaint, a designation that means he unwittingly benefited from Young’s alleged illegal activity. According to the SEC, Young is accused of transferring $7 million to Stroud in early 2008 — money that regulators hope to return to other investors.

George Strawbridge Jr., co-heir of the Campbell’s Soup fortune and owner of a Sargent Drive home in Northeast Harbor with an assessed value of $3.2 million, also is among those who allegedly handed money over to Young, thinking it would be legitimately invested.

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