PIMCO founder and South Laguna neighbor launch legal battle over harassment claims

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Billionaire Bill Gross and his girlfriend Amy Schwartz have sued their next-door neighbors in South Laguna for alleged harassment. File Photo

PIMCO founder Bill Gross and his South Laguna neighbor filed countersuits last week accusing each other of harassing behavior, including a claim that the “bond king” blasted the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song to disturb his neighbors.

The fight between the two cliffside neighbors appears to have boiled over after Gross and his girlfriend Amy Schwartz installed a large glass art installation near the property line they share with neighbors Mark Towfiq and Carol Nakahara, according to court records. After unsuccessful attempts to privately resolve the dispute with Gross and his staff over several months, Towfiq reported the matter to Laguna Beach.

In July, Laguna Beach code enforcement notified Gross of the code violations at 2475 S. Coast Hwy, which includes failing to follow “good neighbor lighting” rules, seek design review approval for the art and a 12-foot-tall structure of steel poles and netting that encase it, and obtain a coastal development permit.

“Almost immediately after the City issued its Notice of Violation, Defendants embarked on a campaign to harass, annoy, and disturb plaintiffs,” Towfiq’s attorney Jennifer Keller wrote in the complaint. “Defendants began to play loud music and bizarre recordings at excessive levels, for lengthy durations, and often late at night.”

Keller claims the behavior demonstrated Gross and Schwartz’s intention to aggravate, annoy, and cause distress to Towfiq and Nakahara.

Over one August weekend, Towfiq called Laguna Beach police to Gross’ property at least three times to request they turn down the music. Each time police were unable to contact Gross or Schwartz, according to the complaint.

Forbes estimates Gross’ net worth at $1.5 billion. Towfiq is the CEO of Nextfort Ventures, a data center development company.

In a complaint filed the day before the neighbors’ lawsuit, Gross’ attorney Jill Basinger writes that Towfiq has become “more and more obsessed” with her clients’ activities at the South Laguna property. She added that Towfiq has been spotted recording her clients’ with his smartphone—in addition to multiple security cameras trained pointed at their home and pool.

“Defendant Towfiq appears to have a particular fascination not only with Mr. Gross but also Ms. Schwartz, particularly when the pair are swimming and thus wearing minimal, if any, clothing,” Basinger wrote.

Gross and Schwartz are asking a judge to permanently ban Towfiq from recording them in their backyard or otherwise violating their right to privacy.

This is not the first time Towfiq has faced off with a neighbor in Orange County Superior Court.

In October 2011, a judge ruled in favor of Towfiq and Nakahara, allowing them to demolish three old structures at 2425 S. Coast Hwy. to make way for a 9,500-square-foot home and garage that partially obstruct a neighbor’s view. Michael Wilson, Towfiq’s neighbor to the north, sued Laguna Beach to challenge the lack of an environmental study on the construction of the Mark Singer-design home.

“This sad state of affairs continues the pattern of harassment Gross used against his ex-wife Sue, who was also forced to seek a restraining order against him,” Keller wrote in an email.  “It is tragic that someone with so much talent, and virtually unlimited resources, deploys his wealth against his family and neighbors instead of helping the less fortunate.”

On Oct. 16, Superior Court Juge Kimberly A. Knill granted a temporary restraining order against Gross and Schwartz, requiring them to stay away 50 yards away from Towfiq and Nakahara. A virtual hearing is scheduled for Oct. 30.

Rockledge Beach is home to the properties at issue in the legal fight between billionaire Bill Gross and his next-door neighbors. File photo
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2 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder why such news would make such a big headline here in this newspaper ? It’s a private matter between the neighbors. Sounds to me like paid PR efforts by Gross’s opposing neighbor.

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