GRASS VALLEY, Calif. - A court ruling says one of Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager's daughters deceitfully used her control of the family purse strings to take her famous father's assets.
Susan Yeager, 54, was ordered Wednesday to pay $911,000 to the family trust for selling Penn Valley property without her father's consent. The trust was under Susan Yeager's oversight when she sold the land.
She retains rights to a family condominium in Nevada City, Calif., as part of the deal in which she sold half of the Penn Valley, Calif., ranch she owned with her father to the trust. In turn, Chuck Yeager has to repay $50,000 to the trust that he took out of it several years ago.
Another of Yeager's daughters, Sharon Flick, 56, lives in Fallon.
Yeager, 82, was the first man to break the sound barrier when he piloted the X-1 rocket plane over Edwards Air Force Base in 1947.
The tentative ruling was issued by former Judge Richard L. Gilbert of Sacramento, who was acting as a referee in the case originally filed by Susan Yeager against her father's wife, Victoria, 46. The ruling is not final and could be altered in the next 10 days.
The judge said Susan Yeager structured the sale of her part of the Penn Valley property behind her father's back. In exchange for the land, the trust gave her the $145,000 condominium and $803,000 in cash. The deal also forgave her $316,000 debt to the trust, among other proceeds.
A legal saga that began to unfold after Yeager met Victoria, his second wife, in March. Yeager's children said she was trying to take advantage of the family fortune, court documents said.
Victoria said she felt exonerated by the ruling and has proven she was not an undue influence on her husband, as his children's lawsuit said.
"No court case is really, really worth it," she said. "Why did they do it?"
The ruling named the four children Yeager had with his first wife, Glennis. They are Flick; Susan, of Hawaii; Donald Yeager, 59, of Colorado; and Michael "Mickey" Yeager. The rest of the children could not be reached for comment.
The ruling said they had received royalty income from Yeager's biography, "with sizable distributions" since 1990 from the family corporation set up to handle the money from the general's personal appearances and activities.
The ruling singled out Susan Yeager, and the judge said she was in violation of her duties as trustee. The judge said the other children questioned Victoria Yeager's activities to protect her husband's money out of "genuine concern for their father and, at least to some degree, fear of loss of his historic financial generosity."