Lawsuit Says Men’s Wearhouse Founder Zimmer Conspired to Block Campus Sale

January 09, 2015 − by John David − in Litigation − No Comments
  • Legal case alleges cover up of fraudulent conduct by Men’s Wearhouse Chairman William “Bill Sechrest, founder George Zimmer, and others.

  • Case against Institute of Noetic Sciences, filed by IIS, heads for March trial

MARIN COUNTY, Calif., (Jan. 9, 2015) –  “This is a case of multilayered fraud” states a $6 million lawsuit against the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), an organization founded by the sixth man to walk on the moon, Edgar Mitchell, filed by the Institute of Imaginal Studies (IIS).  Court papers allege that while IIS had $1 million deposited in escrow based on a binding agreement to purchase a campus, George Zimmer and William “Bill” Sechrest gathered multimillionaire board members in Zimmer’s Palm Spring’s hotel room and raised $3.1 million to scuttle the deal and snatch the property from IIS’ escrow. The agreement concerns a pristine 200 acre Marin County campus made far more accessible with new direct freeway access.

Both Zimmer and Sechrest, current Men’s Wearhouse Chairman, are past chairmen of the IONS board. Documents submitted to the court state that Zimmer put in a half million dollars with the rest of the funds coming from Elizabeth “Betsy” Gordon of the Betsy Gordon Foundation, Harriet Crosby, Bruce Roberts and Fred Segal.

Emails submitted into evidence attest to IIS’ claim that Bill Sechrest strung IIS along. Among others, former CEO James O’Dea sent an email to Bill Sechrest with the subject “next steps: attorney client privileged” indicating that his letter to IIS “…keeps things in play.”

In rejecting Sechrest’s claim of attorney-client privilege, presiding Judge Honorable Mark Talamantes stated in court, “I think the attorney-client privilege is a very important protection that we have and should be asserted only when there is truly advice given by an attorney to its client. I haven’t seen that happening here.”

In his ruling, the Judge stated, “Defendant fails to meet its burden of demonstrating the existence of an attorney-client relationship between Sechrest and IONS, as opposed to a business relationship…The weight of the evidence shows that Sechrest was acting as a principal for IONS, i.e. a prospective board member, and he never held himself out to the principals of IIS as acting as attorney for IONS.” Judge Talamantes granted plaintiff’s motion to extend discovery, stating to IONS’ counsel that “Hide the ball is never acceptable” and ordered IONS to pay sanctions.

Bill Sechrest and Mark Calhoun, IONS board member in charge of legal affairs, are partners in the Dallas law firm of Calhoun, Bhella & Sechrest, LLP.

Since the breech, a successive trail of CEOs have left IONS: James O’Dea, Marilyn Schlitz (claimed to be the scientist in Dan Brown’s bestseller, The Lost Symbol) and Steve Villano, JD. In an email, IONS board member Harriet Crosby stated to fellow members: “Something has gone terribly wrong with our organization and I think we have to bring it out in the open and talk about it rather than sweep it under the rug and go on with business as usual.”

Since 1993, IIS has delivered graduate and professional educational programs in California.


Contact: John P. David


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