FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A 98-year-old home on 509 E Weldon Avenue in Fresno is now at the center of the latest development in the fallout from Bitwise Industries’ financial collapse.
Fresno County tax records show the home was recently purchased by the former CEO of the Fresno-based tech company Jake Soberal on March 29. The records show he bought it for $310,000.
Records show that, before he bought the home, it was sold in November for $190,000.
Those tax records also show Soberal listed the home on June 1, just after the news of the financial issues and hundreds of furloughs at Bitwise was made public. It also coincides with Soberal being fired by the Bitwise board.
According to the Zillow listing, the home is currently being used as a “successful” Airbnb.
Attorney Roger Bonakdar represents employees in a class action lawsuit against Bitwise. He says the timing of the listing is very telling.
“The timing is a little too cute. Obviously, everyone got their layoff notices May 29, all of these employees with nothing to liquidate themselves, with bounced payroll checks, and Jake has the soft landing of being able to sell an Airbnb rental,” he said.
The tax records show the home is now listed for $320,000 and as of June 4, the records show the status is pending. Despite that, Bonakdar said it’s not clear if Soberal is in Fresno, and added he could be doing business from anywhere.
“I think the sale of the property is an attempt to get out of dodge and to round up some cash,” he said.
Bonakdar filed a class action lawsuit on Wednesday on behalf of Bitwise employees. No monetary amount is listed in the suit just yet, but he said they are suing for wages and other penalties.
He also alleges the company violated California’s WARN Act, and failed to give proper notice to employees when they furloughed all 900 employees company-wide. He said their investigators, are still gathering information, but they have served the lawsuit to the new CEO.
“They had nothing to liquidate, they had no soft landing, they had no plan, they had no way to exit. Jake and the bitwise brass, they all knew this was coming,” Bonakdar said, emphasizing the impact on former employees now without a job.
Bonakdar also said if you are an employer and you have job openings or are looking to hire former Bitwise workers, to let him and his office know, as they want to help them get newly hired into new jobs.