Tom Henderson was the head of a company known as San Francisco Regional Center (SFRC), and he controlled companies that formerly owned the Tribune Tower, I. Magnin Building, and Dufwin Theatre building. SFRC was in business from 2010 through 2017. In 2021, Henderson pleaded guilty to charges that he and his business partners in SFRC committed fraud when operating the company, and he was sentenced to 16 months in jail on January 17, 2023. 8
His primary business (through SFRC) was officially to help foreign investors (man from China - here's one article about it) secure EB-5 visas to the US. The way the program works is that "in return for successful job creation (10 jobs for every $500,000 invested in a Targeted Employment Area within 2 years), the investor gets a green card for his/her entire family under the age of 21." [source] According to the SF Business Times, Henderson "is building a budding Oakland business empire on $100 million he raised from 200 foreign investors under the federal EB-5 program. The investors’ goal is permanent U.S. residency visas — and they can’t get the coveted card until Henderson sustainably creates 2,000 jobs. In one of California biggest scandal in EB-5 history Tom Henderson has been accused of running a scam. The SEC is seeking a court-appointed receiver for Henderson's businesses, preliminary injunctions and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains. “We allege that Henderson exploited a program meant to create employment for Americans and abused the trust of investors seeking residency in the U.S.,” said Jina Choi, director of the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office, in a statement. “Rather than using investor funds to create jobs and develop communities as promised, Henderson allegedly played a shell game with investor money to buy his home and support personal ventures.”
Buildings owned by Henderson or his companies
Ties and Connections
- Henderson formerly co-owned the Tribune Tavern, which is on the ground floor of the Tribune Tower, and the Jack London Square restaurant Lungomare with Oakland restaurant entrepreneur Chris Pastena, but in 2014, they "broke up" and Henderson retained sole ownership of Tribune Tavern while Pastena became the sole owner of Lungomare. See this article for more info. Henderson also owned Magnin Events, a 6000 square foot event venue on the rooftop level of the I. Magnin building.
- CallSocket was claimed to be a cutting edge call center company. CallSocket was located on several floors in the Tribune Building and was expected to create 1,000 call center jobs by 2018 located in several sites in downtown Oakland, but closed down in 2016.
- Henderson and partners owned North America 3PL, LLC (NA3PL), a company that received approval from the city's Planning Commission in April, 2014, to operate a customs examination station at 1700 20th Street, Oakland. NA3PL and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) signed an agreement for NA3PL to operate a Centralized Examination Station serving the Port of Oakland effective May 5, 2014. The company seems to have gone out of business in 2016..
- Henderson owned a majority stake in Jack London Gateway shopping center at 800 Market St. in West Oakland, but disputes over late payments to the previous owners have landed Henderson in court.6
Tom Henderson became embroiled in many lawsuits for business conduct.
|Date||Plaintiffs||Defendants||Summary of Complaint||Status|
|2017-01-17||US Securities and Exchange Commission||Tomas M Henderson||
"The SEC sued Henderson for fraud on Jan. 17 after a series of business partners filed lawsuits accusing him of reneging on his agreements, hiding key financial information, and failing to pay back a $3.7 million loan from a West Oakland nonprofit."
|Chris Pastena||Thomas M Henderson||
Pastena alleged that the Hendersons "refused to share profit and loss statements with (him)" and "opened undisclosed bank accounts in the name of the restaurants ... to which Pastena had no access."
Thomas M Henderson,
Michael R Henderson,
Matthew T Henderson,
Business partner Allan Young, with a minority ownership in CallSocket, alleges he has "been completely frozen out of the business and operations" with the Hendersons "using the assets and funds of the CallSocket Entities for their personal use".
|2015-09-??||West Oakland Marketplace Advancement Company||
Thomas M Henderson
"WOMAC... accuses Henderson of gaining a controlling stake in the shopping center by falsely claiming that he intended to rehabilitate the property, and that he would pay $3.7 million"
In January 2023, Henderson was sentenced to a 16 month prison sentence and three years supervised release. In court he admitted to the judge that he did not just lose investors' money, but also his second wife who left him last year and his two grown children, including Matthew who got implicated in his scam, do not want to talk to him anymore. His business associate, Cooper Lee, also pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy. 8
Links and References
- 2011-03-01: "The American dream, for sale" SF Bay Guardian
- 2012-02-02: "Pushing for Jobs, Visas in Oakland" Wall Street Journal (paywalled)
- 2013-07-12: "Tom Henderson's Chinese empire" SF Business Times
- 2013-10-08: "Entrepreneur finds foreign investors to bring jobs to Oakland" Oakland Tribune
- "Oakland eyes pay-to-play visa program for ballpark, new Coliseum" eb5visareview.com
- 2015-10-09 "West Oakland supermarket on hold as owners fight in court" Contra Costa Times
- 2017-10-25 "A Towering Scam" East Bay Express
- Oakland Man Sentenced To 16 Months In Prison For Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Targeting Foreign Investors United States Attorney's Office, January 17, 2023