By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
That was enough time to ponder his third civil lawsuit of 2006. Sears, who also does business as Company Registration Services, Inc., is also being sued by a former client, Charles Nguyen Allen, who would like his retainer back. According to a civil suit filed June 15 by Allen's attorney, Phillip A. Putman of Tustin, Allen paid Sears $5,000 in March to do some work for him—but the following month, Sears "sent a letter to [Allen] demanding more money." That was April 7, after which Allen hired Putman.
"I demanded a refund," Putman says. "I filed a lawsuit [and] his lawyer twice took the matter into arbitration. I filed suit and we tried to serve him. Couldn't find him. When we'd go to his office we couldn't find him."
Putman is baffled by Sears' behavior.
"Mr. Sears appears to be a very well-educated person. He appears to be very well-experienced," Putman says. "If the guy would just use his brains in an honest way, he could do very well." But if that's what he's doing—why?
"I don't want to get off on another kick. I'm a Born-Again Christian and I know that people are born with an evil heart. And he is exactly what Christianity is all about and against. And all the other religions are against it, too. They all frown on and shun those kind of people."
* * *
Long before she took him to court, Tadrous began to seesigns that her once-passionate romance with Sears was cooling. "He sends me flowers, he tells me he loves me, but you look into his eyes, you see something different," she recalls. "You go to the Tower Records, he doesn't go to the Latino section any more [when she was a girl, Tadrous' family moved from Egypt to South America]. He goes to the Middle Eastern section or some crap."
But Tadrous says things changed fundamentally once their son—the fourth child she'd conceived with him via in vitro fertilization—was born, and women's intuition wasn't her only clue. Roughly three weeks after having her son, Tadrous says she called her insurance company to inquire about adding the baby to her health plan. She knew about two of Sears' other girlfriends—she says he told her they were his ex-girlfriends—and five of his children. But when she spoke to the man from the insurance company, he wondered why she was asking so many questions. You already have six children, the man reminded her. "I said 'What do you mean six children?'" she recounts. "'It should be only five.'"
It was six, for the moment. Soon, two more bundles of Sears-sired joy would arrive.
According to birth certificates and the La Rosa Trust, Sears has:
• Four children with Yvonne Tran, a native of Vietnam, who lives in Irvine. The kids were born in 1999, 2002, 2003 and on May 11, 2006.
• One child with Gloria Lee of Irvine, born on the last day of 2000.
• Two children with Peruvian-born Gladys Bazan of Irvine, one born in 2005, the other on Aug. 25, 2006.
• Those seven, plus Tadrous' son, makes eight so far—though, again, the score was only six when Tadrous says she found out, in the summer of 2005.
"He was nice enough, he was giving me candy and Valentines and text messages 'I love you'," she says, describing Sears' attitude after Eric's birth. "But I looked at [cell] phone records and he was doing that with all of them. When he sleeps with one, he sends text messages to the other three."
At first it made her sad, but when she found cell phone records of Sears' contact with other women Tadrous was infuriated.
"I was angry," she says, and she confronted her lover. "He denied it. He said 'Our love is always challenged by people.'"
Which, again, was partly what drew her to a man who would lay hands on her according to the lawsuits against him; who'd convince her to undergo in vitro fertilization twice; who, again according to lawsuits, would allegedly coerce her into signing over the deed to her house.
"I felt so special that he wanted this from me," Tadrous says, explaining why, in happier times, she agreed to bear his children.
By the beginning of last summer, her rosy glow had long faded. Tadrous had signed away the deed to her house—and she'd learned that, after he promised not to add the deed to her house to the La Rosa Trust, Sears allegedly had done so, anyway.
That's why in 2006 she agreed to cooperate with the Irvine Police Department, which according to court documents "[wired her] house to capture threats against her life if Tadrous testified against Sears in the criminal [case]." Tadrous was ready to end the relationship and formally break with Sears, but she hadn't done it yet. Incredibly, perhaps, they still saw each other, and had contemplated an island-hopping excursion to Colombia. Tadrous says she declined, fearing she'd never come back alive: "I could have gone to Colombia," she says. "I could be dead now, and I'm not." And when Sears proposed they spend a night out on the town in Laguna Beach, Tadrous again feared for her life—and decided she needed back-up. So she hired a private detective to follow them that day.