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John Wessman Said He Might Die Trying to Get Rich

Guys like John Wessman erroneously assume that no one is watching them out here in this wide open desert. These unsavory characters act like they’re still cowboys ripping-off a bunch of docile Cahuilla Indians. Wessman’s retail tenants on Palm Canyon Drive are afraid to say anything about him.  

Not everyone is afraid of brash Mr. Wessman. Finally one brave little Indian stood up to high and mighty gunslingers Wessman, Inc. and the bribery and corruption they employ in the low desert. One small developer was courageous enough to blow the whistle after Wessman and the City ripped him off. 

Now everyone on the Palm Springs City Council is either a witness or a suspect. Let’s dig in a little deeper.  How many construction projects does the John Wessman scandal taint?

Wessman Doesn’t Do Anything Half Way

Palm Springs developer Wessman once said that he would rather get rich or die trying. It looks like he may end up with a combination of both.  One thing is for sure, Mr. Wessman will not be flying his private jet to his home in Mexico for a while. The Desert Sun reports that at his arraignment hearing in Riverside County Superior Court on Thursday, Wessman was ordered to surrender his passport over his attorney’s objections.

Remembrances of Things Past:  Bob Fey, a longtime Palm Springs licensed real estate agent, first met wild west developer Wessman when he was working framing homes 50 years ago. He remembered Wessman saying back then that he’d be a rich man or die trying to become one. “John doesn’t do anything half way,” Fey said.

Diversion of Public Funds

Wessman probably won’t be dying halfway either, he’ll have to have his high flying ashes divided three ways so they can be scattered over three different states. Mr. Wessman’s current legal problems could tie up commercial real estate developments in California, Colorado and Tennessee for the next decade or so. John Wessman may have illegally received California taxpayer money in the form of Measure J revenues collected for redevelopment of downtown PS and he may have also corrupted public funds in Memphis, TN.

From the USA Today Organization:  Wessman Holdings LLC has three projects pending in Memphis and there are public incentives for two of them.  In its application for one of the incentives, the company asserted “Wessman Development is not party to a pending lawsuit nor been charged with a felony.”  The company, represented by Seattle architect Chris Pardo, was approved for a 15-year tax abatement on a proposed boutique hotel on South Main.

john wessman development memphis, tn
The Memphis College of Art at 477 South Main is one of two buildings in the process of being converted into boutique hotels by Palm Springs developer John Wessman. (Photo: Mark Weber/The Commercial Appeal)

By Dean McAdams

Born a poor peckerwood in a Tujunga holler, Dean practiced secrets of the ancient & modern masters to end up liberated in the coastal paradise of West L.A.