The man overseeing rehabilitation of the historic Hoberg’s Resort in Lake County has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor labor code violation in connection with asbestos removal from the property in 2011 and 2012. The complaint against Daniel E. Nelson alleged that he repeatedly violated state workplace safety laws governing the removal of asbestos during demolition, potentially exposing employees to the hazardous material, Lake County District Attorney Don Anderson said in a written statement.
According to the story in the Press Democrat, Nelson said that he accepted blame because he was overseeing the project, but the person who actually committed the asbestos cleanup violations was the contractor hired to do the job. A civil lawsuit against the contractor is pending, he said.
Nelson’s plea agreement includes three years of probation, 60 days in the county jail, 340 hours of community service, a $5,000 fine and a payment of $20,000 to the Lakeside Health Clinic in Lake County, Anderson said. Nelson noted he’s eligible for electronic monitoring and said he’s likely to be able to continue working on the resort rehabilitation project instead of being jailed.
In exchange for the plea, charges alleging Nelson failed to secure worker’s compensation insurance and failed to implement emission control measures were dismissed, Anderson said. But the punishment attached to the plea agreement reflects the other charges, he said. Nelson also had previously been convicted in Santa Clara County for one count of worker’s compensation insurance fraud, Anderson said.
The Lake County case against Nelson stems from restoration efforts at Hoberg’s Resort, located on 55 wooded acres high on Cobb Mountain. In its heyday decades ago, the resort catered to families, movie stars and spiritual seekers. It included a lodge, ballroom, dining hall, swimming pool and more than 100 small cabins. Nelson and his backers, Lake County Partners LLC, plan eventually to add time-share condominiums. It has already erected a stage where it has held music events.
The asbestos work connected with the Lake County charges against Nelson took place when the resort was owned by Cobb Mountain Partners, which purchased the property in 2010 for $2 million, according to county records. The company sold amid debt and legal problems linked to the rehabilitation of the site. Lake County Partners – which includes Silvester Rabic, a Bay Area real estate developer and partner in a mortgage company, and Frank Sasselli, a communications entrepreneur – purchased the property last year for $1.2 million. Nelson said good progress is being made on the resort, including completion of 16 rooms, a wine bar and welcome center. He expects it to reopen this summer with a fitness center, deli and spa.