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A Sunny Street's Shady Side

COLUMN ONE

U.S. officials have tried, with mixed results, to seize four Zumirez Drive homes in Malibu from residents accused of narcotics trafficking, marijuana cultivation and credit card fraud.

July 23, 1999|JEFF LEEDS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Stanley's property easily met the government's 20% equity threshold--it had nearly doubled in value since he bought it, according to the U.S. estimate.

Federal prosecutors filed a civil claim to seize the property, saying Stanley must have used marijuana profits to purchase it.

Meanwhile, his wife was placed on the county's witness list in its case against a paparazzo pilot who buzzed too low over Streisand's wedding last year.

Last month, Stanley settled the government's case by agreeing to pay $240,000 instead of losing his property.

But his neighbor down the street may not be so lucky.

* The Satmax Family Limited Partnership plunked down $2.4 million last fall for a cushy pad a few doors over from Streisand.

Authorities now say the buyer behind Satmax is Kenneth H. Taves, who stands accused of one of the largest credit card scams in history. Regulators say Taves' companies billed up to 900,000 credit card holders for Internet services they didn't order, yielding him $45.5 million.

A court-appointed receiver alleges that Taves tried to conceal the property by transferring the deed to a Canadian shell corporation shortly after regulators swooped down on him. Taves remains in custody in Los Angeles on related criminal charges.

Jana Meek, the retiree who lives next door, said Taves first appeared in her driveway wearing a red leather motorcycle suit and offered to pay $10,000 if she'd let his children play on her tennis court. She declined. Later, she said, he sent a work crew to "butcher" at least half a dozen eucalyptus trees in her backyard in order to improve the view from his back window.

Such encounters are more frequent, she said, "now that the Point has become well-known as the place to be."

Some Zumirez Drive residents figure their street's quirks are ready-made for television. And they should know.

"I almost wrote a sitcom called 'Zumirez Drive,' " said Eileen Penn, who has lived on the street for about 30 years and raised her actor sons, Sean and Christopher, there.

"More people with more money are coming in now. That doesn't necessarily make it better."

Since 1991, U.S. officials have tried to seize these four properties on Zumirez Drive.

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