Watery Grave

The demise in the great tsunami of Poom Jensen, grandson of Thai king Bhumipol Adulyadej, brought a torrent of local press coverage last week. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times described the dead 21-year-old as the son of "Princess Ubolratana and her ex-husband, Peter Jensen of San Diego." The prince's father was said to be "a locally prominent businessman" who "was involved in several high-profile ventures, including a gold-mining business in Northern California and companies in the water sales market." The U-T followed the next day, playing up Poom's battle with autism and his parents' marital discord. Neither paper got around to mentioning Peter's infamous connection to Dick Silberman, the felon and Democratic financier once married to former San Diego GOP Mayor Susan Golding. Before he was sent to prison for money laundering, Silberman was chairman and Peter Jensen was president of Yuba Natural Resources, an outfit that Silberman claimed would make millions dredging for gold on the Yuba River north of Sacramento. Investors included all the likely San Diego suspects of the era, including J. David Dominelli, later convicted of swindling millions from unwary investors, and M. Larry Lawrence, the late Hotel Del Coronado mogul whose body was relocated from Arlington National Cemetery after it was revealed he'd lied about his war record. Jensen was featured in an October 1985 Forbes story as saying, "You can pan dog shit out here and find gold. There's gold everywhere." A skeptical Forbes described Silberman's ties to La Jolla's Allen Glick, whose service on behalf of the Kansas City Mafia has been forever enshrined in the movie Casino, and suggested investors eschew Yuba stock. Jensen took over after Silberman's fall and the money-losing venture morphed into a water-rights-sales company. But by 2000, the Sacramento Bee reported, the company's stock had collapsed to 35 cents a share, and Jensen had thrown in the towel: "Trying to do a water deal is like trying to align 20 planets at the same time."

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