Sebastian Monsour, CEO of the Majella Group, has recently been arrested for fraud by misusing $5 million. His arrest followed a raid of his office in Brisbane, Australia.
A “long and protracted investigation” went into action before his arrest, said the Queensland Police. The police are also trying to determine how the money was used. They say it is unlikely the money will be recovered.
As of right now, it is still unknown if Saddleback will open to the public ever again, although many are hopeful.
For the full report on whats been going on at Saddleback, click HERE.
The latest Saddleback news dates back to July of 2015, when the Berry family, owners of Saddleback, announced the Rangeley double was “at end of its useful life” and that operations would cease if the lift could not be replaced soon. The lift was not able to be replaced and the ski area sat idle for the following three winters, including the 2017-18 ski season.
On June 28, 2017, the Berry family announced Saddleback was being sold to the Majella Group. At that time, Majella announced the sale would be completed later in the summer. They also said a new Doppelmayr fixed-grip quad would be installed to replace the aging double along with a new t-bar. Majella did not commit to operating nor installing these lifts for the 2017-18 ski season.
Then, on September 18, 2017, the Majella Group declared that “dominoes have fallen into place” and that “physical work is starting.” They also stated that the first step would be taking down the existing Rangeley double. As of mid-December, most of the chairs remain on the Rangeley Double. Saddleback’s lifts have not passed state inspection since November 2014.
The Rangley double was originally installed by Mueller in 1963. This was and always has been Saddlebacks main form of transportation up the mountain. This lift was Saddlebacks longest lift at 4,550 feet. It reached 1,117 feet vertical, transporting 900 passengers per hour up the mountain. It was later retrofitted with Borvig chairs to replace the old center pole Mueller chairs. Then, in 2004, Doppelmayr CTEC came in replacing the aging terminals. This lift has not been in use since the 2014-15 ski season. Plans are still in place to remove the Rangeley double.
Later in September of 2017, Majella posted, “[the] only thing that is going to hold up or delay this process is Mother Nature.” They also said they were committed to opening in some capacity for the 2017-18 ski season.
By the time November 9th rolled around, Majella announced delays in the sale and said they will not fully open, rather a limited operation, if possible. They said that the partial opening “will allow our Saddlebackers and their families to return and enjoy the mountain in some capacity.”
On November 21, 2017, NBC Portland reported that the Majella Group “learned exclusively that the money isn’t there [and that] if the group doesn’t come up with the money soon, the deal could fall apart entirely.”
In March of 2018, a leaked audio was released in which Monsour, CEO of Majella, said, “I have a very, very, very small amount of funds.” He also stated that “opening the mountain at Saddleback for the Saddleback Resort is not a primary concern for us” and that he won’t lose any sleep if the mountain doesn’t open. Many news reports have articles with video proof of Monsour saying he’s just trying to open the mountain for the EB-5 Visa program, which he now says is not a primary concern.
Saddleback did not operate during the winter of 2017-18 and as of right now, may not open again next year if the Majella Group can’t get the money to upgrade the lifts.
More information will be added when it becomes available, but for now, skinning and hiking is the only option if you really want turns on Saddleback.