When Scott Westerhuis’s murder/arson/suicide launched the Mid-Central/GEAR UP scandal to the front pages, I immediately noticed the suspect business manager’s small web of corporate entities. The thinnest strand of that web appeared to be the Chita Corporation, about which I wrote on September 22, 2015, this simple sentence: “Westerhuis formed Chita Corporation in 2012, named himself and his wife Nicole as officers, and filed one annual report, his 2013 report in October 2014.”
Chita Corporation did not pop up in any of other Mid-Central or GEAR UP documents.
But now I’ve found one document—just one, that clarifies two things about Chita Corporation.
First, the spelling is actually ChiTA.
Second, Westerhuis formed this corporation to build man camps in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. ChiTA proposed building a 100-unit camp in Watford City, ND, and a 250-unit camp outside of Minot, SD. ChiTA proposed to differentiate itself in a marketplace marked by barracks-style lodging with stick-built modular homes featuring private living quarters and, at the Minot facility, a two-unit automatic truck wash.
To make these two camps happen, ChiTA just needed $18 million.
My humble Googling finds no information indicating that ChiTA Corporation ever obtained funding for or built its man camps. The ChiTA document trail, consisting of no more than the 2013 annual report filed in 2014 with the South Dakota Secretary of State and no business records for ChiTA in North Dakota’s registry, suggest that ChiTA never got into the oil field housing business. If that’s the case, Westerhuis may have spared himself another financial debacle: by September 2015, the crash in oil prices had turned the Bakken man camps to ghost towns.