THOUSAND OAKS : U.S. Officials Seize $4-Million Ranch

Federal officials investigating a Palm Desert man in connection with possible money laundering and bank fraud on Thursday seized a 23-acre Hidden Valley ranch worth an estimated $4 million.

U.S. marshals and Internal Revenue Service agents seized the country estate--including a 15-room mansion, guest house and ranch buildings--at 1515 Hidden Valley Road, Assistant U.S. Atty. Mark Holscher said.

County tax records list the owner as Michael Bumbarger of San Diego. But federal officials allege that the property is actually controlled by his father, John Allison Bumbarger.

The posh country estate was formerly owned by screen actor Alan Ladd, who lived in the secluded valley south of Thousand Oaks for years before selling the ranch, Holscher said.

According to court documents filed last week by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, John Bumbarger is suspected of engineering a series of phony real estate transactions to prevent foreclosure on the ranch after he filed for bankruptcy in 1990.

One Los Angeles savings and loan issued a $1.75-million loan to a couple to whom John Bumbarger said he had sold the property. The property was later transferred to a dummy corporation that John Bumbarger actually controls, according to court documents.

Holscher said John Bumbarger has not been arrested, pending completion of the investigation.

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