By Sally Voth
Oasis Winery, owned by high-profile Warren County resident and gubernatorial candidate Tareq Salahi, is scheduled for foreclosure auction in May.
Salahi, who in 2009 crashed a White House dinner with his now ex-wife Michaele -- owns the winery, located at 14141 Hume Road, Hume. The couple has a house on Scenic Overlook Drive, west of Linden. Their divorce was finalized last year.
Roanoke-based Walker Commercial Real Estate Services Inc. is auctioning the winery, which includes about 100 acres and a 19,200-square-foot building, on May 11, according to an auction ad. Its tax-assessed value is listed as being $1.7 million.
A notice on the ad states that personal property isn't part of the sale, and neither is "any intellectual property, copyrights, trademarks, or any other registered marks held by either the former occupant of the winery or any other property."
Wine and equipment from Oasis was auctioned off as a bankruptcy procedure about 1 ½ years ago. That auction grossed $170,513, according to online court records.
Salahi's mother, Corinne Salahi, filed for bankruptcy on behalf of Oasis Vineyards several years ago. Salahi filed an unsuccessful motion in September 2011 seeking to dismiss his mother's filing, according to online court records.
Salahi claimed he was the majority shareholder and that his mother didn't call a board meeting about the situation.
"The bankruptcy filing may have compromised the wine business beyond repair," the motion states. "Corinne Salahi is not an expert in the wine business and has done nothing to preserve the wine and equipment that is the bulk of the estate in bankruptcy ..."
Salahi issued a statement Tuesday through a media assistant on his gubernatorial campaign.
"It is indeed troubling that an auction of the Salahi Family Trust property/OASIS, worth millions of dollars, including the winery property in it's entirety is taking place to cover what is allegedly a $100K note," the statement says. "I am troubled as a major shareholder, following my father's passing, that such action would occur without my consent nor any notice to me by the auctioneer, the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts or any other person or entity for that matter."
In his statement, Salahi says he's asking for the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI to investigate what he claims is fraud. Salahi denies co-signing for the loan.
"We will take any and all steps necessary to protect the family land that my father wanted to see kept under the Oasis family ownership," the statement continues. "We will seek damages by anyone involved in these matters, including those that participate in any auctions knowing very well, that they are participating in fraud. Furthermore, I am additionally troubled that Mr. Bill Walker of Walker Commercial Real Estate is using a federally trademarked/registered name and marks to market said property without consent."
Salahi anticipates a "long, drawn-out legal battle."
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org