The federal government has accused a Kentfield couple of evading nearly $2 million in income taxes.
His plan to recover the money: Seize the couple’s Nicasio retreat center, which is cloaked in layers of what prosecutors view as fraudulent business entities.
Federal prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit on July 25 against David Raynal, a real estate salesman, and Maryanne Comaroto, a motivational speaker, relationship coach, and radio personality who authored books such as Hindsight: What You Need to Know Before You Drop Your Drawers.”
Comaroto and Raynal own a property called “Gassho House” on Lucas Valley Road in Nicasio. The property is advertised as a luxury retreat center offering “a unique boutique location for your wellness retreat, staff reunion, or off-site training.”
The government is attempting to confiscate and sell Gassho House to pay off the debt Comaroto and Raynal allegedly incurred.
When Comaroto and Raynal jointly filed their federal income taxes in 2010, they said they owed $472,097, which the federal complaint said they never paid. After more than 11 years of interest and other charges, that unpaid amount has grown to $877,497.44, prosecutors claim.
After 2010, Comaroto and Raynal began filing their federal tax returns separately, and Raynal omitted payments in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015 for a total of $941,151.20, authorities claim.
The couple had years earlier formed a limited liability company, Unlimited Partnerships, specifically “to hide assets,” according to the federal complaint. Unlimited was the registered owner of several of the couple’s residential properties and eventually Gassho House, but were in fact indistinguishable from the couple themselves, although Raynal reportedly liquidated his holdings in 2013 and transferred some to Comaroto’s son Nolan Ellis, according to the complaint.
The couple formed another LLC, 555 Lucas Valley Road, which owned the retreat center on paper, but the couple nonetheless remained the true owners, the complaint said.
The retreat center itself includes a main house, a 30-foot yurt described on the retreat’s website as “a gentle, healing vortex,” four “permanent glamping tents,” a fire pit, pool, hot tub, and an orchard.
The government is asking the courts to uphold their claims for unpaid taxes and penalties — $877,497.44 against the couple, another $941,151.20 against Raynal alone — and to declare the couple’s real estate transfers with their business units fraudulent.
Neither Comaroto nor Raynal have commented in court on the government’s allegations.
The government has also asked for their liens to be recovered through the sale of the resort, arguing that Comaroto and Raynal are the “true owners of Gassho House despite alleged transfers” to their business entities.
On Amazon, Comaroto promotes her 2003 memoir, Skinny, Tan and Rich: Unveiling the Myth, as “the incredibly personal true story of how a woman who seemed to have it all – wealth, beauty and power – survived death, sex and drugs, rape, the mafia, and finally found what she was looking for.”
Raynal “helped found the world’s first sleep clinic,” according to the federal complaint. A business website for the couple indicates that the clinic was located at Stanford University, where Raynal earned degrees in religious studies and psychology. Raynal was previously a managing partner at CitiApartments in San Francisco.
University officials have not responded to inquiries seeking to confirm Raynal helped establish a sleep clinic there.
Comaroto and Raynal did not respond to messages seeking comment, nor did Andrew Weill, a San Francisco attorney who filled out the paperwork in the case on their behalf. Weill also signed filings on behalf of Unlimited and 555 Lucas Valley Road, both named as defendants.
No one opened the gate of the Kentfield house listed as the residence of Comaroto and Raynal.
The federal lawsuit also names Ellis, the California Franchise Tax Board and Marin County as defendants. The complaint states that anyone “may claim an interest in the properties” involved in the case, the complaint said.
“At this time, we believe our only interest is in any taxes that may be due,” said Brian Washington, Marin County Attorney. He said his office is still reviewing the complaint.
Andrew LePage, a spokesman for the state Internal Revenue Service, said the agency does not typically comment on pending litigation.
Ellis could not be reached for comment and no one answered the door at his San Rafael residence.