SAN RAMON -- A San Ramon investment adviser who cited almost $2.5 million in unsecured personal debt in a 2010 bankruptcy filing was booked into jail on attempted murder charges after authorities say he shot a property manager during a bank repossession of his $1.6 million home, sheriff's officials said.
Mike Ghoneim surrendered to authorities after a Contra Costa County SWAT team lobbed tear gas into his home in the 3400 block of Ashbourne Circle, nearly four hours after officials say he shot a man in the leg with a shotgun, prompting a standoff with law enforcement.
The 42-year-old man emerged about 5:45 p.m. and knelt on the front porch of the five bedroom, 5,034-square-foot home in the upscale gated community, throwing his hands in the air in surrender to authorities.
Court documents show Ghoneim and his wife, Naoko Chiba, were entangled in the financial mess well before authorities arrived at their doorstep Wednesday afternoon. The two defaulted on a home loan and were currently fighting a bank over whether it had the right to evict them, and Chiba was also sued for back rent for her Danville stationery and gift store, Pleasant Thoughts, court records show.
Ghoneim's financial records indicate he and his wife were behind in their payments on the house as early as March 2010, when a bankruptcy filing indicated he was trying to modify his home loan and would "have to let the home go and rent a home" if he was unsuccessful.
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing shows that the couple possessed $1.4 million in assets while owing $3.86 million to various creditors and had been sued by multiple entities, including various family members. The couple also had outstanding mortgages on four homes, including the Ashbourne Circle residence, and owed money on two failed businesses, the Danville gift shop and Ghoneim's business, Verawealth Investments, which the filing notes "never got off the ground."
Chiba independently filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in August 2013 for debt owed to Pleasant Thoughts' lenders, though the filing was quickly dismissed after she failed to make a payment to the bankruptcy trustee.
As the bank geared up to take possession of the home in the gated community of Norris Canyon Estates, two sheriff's deputies accompanied a locksmith, a real estate agent and a property manager to serve an eviction notice on Ghoneim, who was alone in the home when they arrived, Contra Costa sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said. No one answered when deputies knocked on the door, and as the property manager jiggled the doorknob, a shot was fired through the door and into the man's leg.
The unidentified property manager, who had been assigned to prepare the home for resale, was rushed by two civil deputies to a neighbor's home across the street, where they tended to him until an ambulance arrived to take him to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Lee said. The man was treated for the gunshot wound and by Thursday afternoon had been upgraded to stable condition.
Ghoneim was taken to the hospital to be evaluated for exposure to the tear gas, and was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility about 1 a.m., according to jail records. He was booked into jail on five counts of attempted murder -- one for every person who arrived to serve the eviction notice -- and is being held in lieu of $2.5 million bail.
The couple's Union City-based civil attorney, Georges Shers, who represented them in the foreclosure case, said they struggled to pay off the housing loan because Ghoneim had "unemployment problems."
"He was a peaceful individual," Shers said. "He was upset with the entire process and felt he was being dealt with unfairly, felt the banks had been underhanded in their behavior."
But, he added, "not to the point of violence." "Michael doesn't come off as being a violent individual at all."Staff writers Matthias Gafni, Kristin J. Bender and Katie Nelson contributed to this report.