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Salyer's ex No. 2 sues banks, lenders over P.B. home

- Seeks to prevent foreclosure

By KELLY NIX

Published: Sept. 17, 2010

THE SECOND ex-wife of former agribusinessman Scott Salyer — who is facing bribery, price-fixing and other federal charges over his tomato-processing business — has filed suit over a Pebble Beach home they purchased three years ago that is now facing foreclosure.

In a lawsuit filed Sept. 3, Teri Nelson Salyer targets a bank and other corporations over the Bristol Lane house where she and Salyer lived but which could be foreclosed because of Scott Salyer’s “refusal” to pay his share of the $10,910 monthly mortgage and property taxes on the home.

After Teri Nelson Salyer and Scott Salyer were divorced in 2008 — one year after they purchased the house, with her making the $600,000 down payment — a settlement allowed her to keep the residence. Scott Salyer was also ordered to pay his ex-wife alimony of $11,000 per month, of which $5,000 was to be used to pay part of the monthly mortgage, which has a principal balance of about $1.5 million.

But the suit alleges Salyer ceased paying alimony after he was arrested in January on federal criminal charges related to his former tomato empire. He was released from jail on Sept. 3 after posting $6 million bail.

“Scott Salyer stopped making payments and the house went into foreclosure,” Teri Salyer’s attorney, Bob Rosenthal, told The Pine Cone Wednesday. Scott Salyer’s lawyer did not return calls seeking comment.

Teri Salyer’s lawsuit — filed in Monterey County Superior Court — doesn’t list her ex-husband as a defendant but instead goes after the financial institutions behind the home loan and foreclosure: JP Morgan Chase bank, Chase Home Loan Servicing, Washington Mutual and California Reconveyance Company. The suit alleges violation of state law, fraud and unfair business practices.

Last-minute save

Last week, Chase was slated to foreclose on the house where Teri Salyer lives with her son, a minor. But Rosenthal obtained a restraining order from a Monterey County Superior Court Judge on Sept. 7, the day before that was to happen.

His client, Rosenthal said, has been caught in the middle of her ex-husband’s legal problems and the bank’s demands.

“This is a case where this woman didn’t do anything wrong,” Rosenthal said.

Chase proceeded with the foreclosure after it filed a notice of default in May and a notice of trustee sale in August.

Teri Salyer had sought to modify the bank loan so she could keep the house, however, a declaration she made to the court in support of a restraining order alleges Chase would not discuss the matter with her since she is not listed on the bank’s loan documents.

“I have sought permission from Scott Salyer to speak directly with Chase; however, he has refused to authorize Chase to speak to myself or my attorney ....” according to a declaration she filed.

She is listed on the title and the deed of trust as a “borrower,” which should have entitled her to discuss the loan with Chase, Rosenthal said.

The restraining order not only prevents Chase from foreclosing Teri Salyer’s home, it compels the bank to discuss the home loan with her and Rosenthal.

However, Rosenthal said the order is only temporary security for his client.

“The reality is, if the mortgage payments aren’t made” the house could eventually be foreclosed, Rosenthal said. “But it buys us time to litigate with Scott and hopefully get some money.”

No opportunity to save house

Teri Salyer’s lawsuit alleges that before Chase filed a notice of default, the bank did not contact her with an opportunity to “explore options to avoid foreclosure,” a breach of state law.

The suit also alleges unfair business practices and fraud because Chase refused to negotiate with Teri Salyer a loan modification and because she wasn’t properly notified of the bank’s intent to foreclose.

“For the bank to take the position of not talking to Teri or her attorney — when she is on the deed of trust and the tile — is ridiculous,” Rosenthal said. “She has a child she lives there with and it is her primary residence.”

Chase also improperly sought the foreclosure before the expiration of 90 days from the recorded notice of default, according to the lawsuit.

Rosenthal said Teri Salyer may also file suit against Scott Salyer, but litigation against her ex-husband would likely be filed by another attorney who handles her family law matters.

Scott Salyer’s friends and family helped raise his $6 million bail and he was released from Sacramento County Jail. He is now under house arrest in impressive an house on Ronda Road in Pebble Beach.

Salyer must wear an electronic monitoring device to make sure he doesn’t flee, a concern federal prosecutors have had since he was first taken into custody. A federal judge also ordered Salyer to surrender his passport and pilot’s license.