California Palms owner claims 'corrupt activity' by lender
The operator of an addiction recovery facility in Austintown has a new strategy to stop foreclosure proceedings against his faux palm-tree landscaped former hotel at Route 46 and Interstate 80.
Sebastian Rucci is suing a creditor claiming loans for his California Palms Addiction Recovery Center violate Ohio laws prohibiting interest rates in excess of 25%.
The 154-page civil lawsuit filed Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas court accuses Pender Capital of violating state usury laws by charging Rucci interest rates between 50% and 97%.
The suit alleged corrupt activity on Pender's part claiming the lender is trying to collect what Rucci characterizes as an “unlawful debt.”
Rucci wants the court to award him three times the $2 million in damages he claims to have suffered.
The suit comes just two days after a federal judge dismissed California Palms' Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that Rucci hoped would let him refinance the $4 million debt.
The bankruptcy court sent the Palms foreclosure case back to Mahoning County Court, which last October ordered Rucci to vacate California Palms property after being found in contempt of an earlier court-approved settlement with Pender Capital.
On Tuesday, Rucci filed a motion asking the county court to reconsider the foreclosure judgment.
California Palms Recovery opened as a rehabilitation campus in 2017.
Formerly the Hotel California as guest lodgings, Rucci changed the name to California Palms Hotels and Suites after trademark issues arose.
Saying that he faced competition from nearby hotels with loyalty awards, Rucci announced in early 2017 that he planned to turn the facility into a rehab and recovery center.