J.W. Millegan, who serves as an “advisor” for Pegasus Equestrian International Resort & Venue, was charged with investment fraud and tax evasion in Oregon late last year.

In August of last year, news broke in Siskiyou County that plans were underway to bring a large-scale equestrian resort to Yreka. The proposed business is known as Pegasus Equestrian International Resort & Venue. Its owners, brothers Drew and Quinn Millegan, estimate Pegasus will bring 500 jobs to the area.

In November of 2019, a different kind of news broke in Oregon. Drew and Quinn’s father, J.W. Millegan, who serves as an “advisor” for Pegasus Equestrian International Resort & Venue, was charged with investment fraud and tax evasion.

J.W. Millegan, who lives in McMinnville, Oregon, had no qualms about addressing those charges during a Jan. 2 phone interview with the Siskiyou Daily News. First though, he clarified that he “owns nothing” related to Pegasus, calling himself “the retired father.”

Of the 13 federal indictments filed against him in court on Nov. 21, 2019, Millegan confidently stated, “I’ll be found not guilty.” He said he expects the process to clear his name to take “a little over two or three years.” And, he emphasized, “It doesn’t affect Pegasus or my sons.”

According to a Nov. 21, 2019 article from The Oregonian, “From March 2010 through May 2017, Millegan is accused of having bought and sold securities for clients’ investment accounts to generate commissions for himself. He generated more than $2.5 million in trading commissions while he cost 12 investors more than $4.3 million in unrealized investment gains, according to prosecutors.”

The way Millegan explained it to the Siskiyou Daily News is this: “I’m charged with not earning clients for three years the S&P 500 return at no cost and no risk.” He added, “There’s no securities law that I violated in that regard ... I’m not accused of stealing money or doing unauthorized trades.”

As for the accusation that he didn’t pay more than $3.3 million in taxes between July 2006 and September 2016, Millegan said, “I do owe taxes, but not the amount that’s listed.” He said the amount owed is “a little over $1 million.” He added, “It’s not illegal to owe taxes.”

“The charges come more than two years after federal authorities executed a search warrant and raided Millegan’s home at gunpoint and took his client files, according to his lawyer,” The Oregonian article notes. Millegan has not yet appeared in court.

As Millegan is an “advisor” on the Pegasus project – that’s according to his son, Drew, who also briefly spoke to the Siskiyou Daily News – he took the time to discuss the planned venue and how the project is moving along thus far.

“Pegasus, with its 1,500 plus acres ... will be one of the most comprehensive equestrian venues in North America, if not the world,” a recent post on the Pegasus Facebook page reads.

Millegan said his sons are currently working to raise money to close escrow on what they hope will be Pegasus’s home – approximately 1,500 acres in the Butcher Hill area of Yreka.

He and his sons have spent years looking for the perfect spot for the equestrian venue they envisioned, he said, and they believe Yreka is the perfect spot for many reasons.

“The county airport was the big deal,” Millegan noted, because it means horses can be flown into the rural area from anywhere. Other factors that tipped the scales in Siskiyou County’s favor were its land prices, its focus on historic preservation, and easy access to Interstate 5.

Millegan said he and his sons also like the area because it’s a “friendly community,” and it's "halfway between everyone else on the West Coast.”

As equestrian sports are not spectator-driven and are paid for by the participants, he explained, Pegasus “didn’t need a big population, it needed a friendly place.”

The Millegans were previously involved in a similar project called the Wallace Bridge International Equestrian Events and Competition Venue. It was a proposed 325 acre development west of Salem, Oregon.

“While we had very strong local and regional support, our efforts could not overcome certain obstacles at that location,” the Pegasus Facebook page explains of Wallace Bridge.

J.W. Millegan repeatedly emphasized that “California’s land use laws are less restrictive than Oregon’s,” one of the biggest reasons he said Pegasus hopes to call the state its home.

He also described why they settled on a rural area rather than somewhere near a large city. “When you go to LA or the Bay Area, people will sue you over any change ... Horses need open land; you’re not going to get that in a place that’s vibrant because the land will already be subdivided.”

Because Pegasus will have ownership of the land surrounding its venue, it won’t be choked by traffic or suburban sprawl the way many sporting venues in big cities are, Millegan said.

“We couldn’t afford the land anywhere else and we believe we’ll get approved here,” he concluded. Millegan also claims to have a land use planning and real estate background. And having grown up in McMinnville, Oregon when its population was about 9,000, he said, “I understand small communities.”

He clarified that he does not want to see Yreka go the way of McMinnville in terms of population growth. Since 1960, McMinnville’s population has more than quadrupled, from 7,656 to 34,347 as of 2017.

Millegan predicted that Pegasus Equestrian Center will draw a different kind of tourist to Yreka than those who flock to McMinnville for its wineries.

“Wine people come for the weekend,” he said. “With Pegasus in Yreka, [tourists] will come for two weeks or a month. And it’s a younger tourist.”

He estimated that Pegasus will bring approximately 500 jobs to the Yreka area – 250 part time and 250 full time. “We would bring more services, higher end jobs and a higher end tourist,” he noted.

Of the 1,500 acres that Pegasus will own if it does close escrow, Millegan said only 100 or 200 acres will be occupied by buildings. Most of the area will be open land.

He said he hopes the escrow will close sometime in February. After that will come the California Environmental Quality Act process, which he expects will take about a year.

If the Pegasus vision comes to fruition in Yreka, Millegan said, “We believe our transient tax and hotel tax alone, not including property and sales tax, will represent at least 25 percent of Yreka’s annual revenue.”

For more about Pegasus, visit facebook.com/PegasusEq