Dozens of investors are suing the man behind the California company that owns the Sandpiper retirement community in Mount Pleasant, alleging he misled them, wrongly spent $22 million of their money and owes them unpaid interest.
The 71 individuals, none of whom live in South Carolina, filed a lawsuit in December in Sonoma County, Calif., against Aldo Baccala and his wife, Karen. The complaint alleges the couple misspent roughly $22 million in loans, in some cases buying properties at inflated prices for their own profit, according to court documents.
In 2004, Baccala's firm, Baccala Realty Inc. of Petaluma, Calif., bought Sandpiper, a retirement community that includes a nursing home, assisted-living facilities and independent-living facilities.
But the money that is at the heart of the Sonoma County lawsuit wasn't used to buy Sandpiper, said Matt Nizibian, who recently took over Baccala's responsibilities at Premier Senior Living Healthcare, which manages Sandpiper.
The legal scuffle isn't expected to alter day-to-day operations at the facility.
Employees were told last week that the allegations won't lead to layoffs or a decrease in spending, said Nizibian, who described the litigation against Baccala as a "personal matter."
"When he ended up with financial problems, the management of the company was turned over to me," Nizibian said. "None of the health care facilities is named in the suit or having financial problems."
Nizibian said Baccala owns a portion the Sandpiper facility but would not say how much. In a letter to investors obtained by The Press Democrat, a California newspaper, Baccala said that he would sell some assisted-living centers to pay down his debts. Nizibian said the Sandpiper facility is not for sale.
Baccala did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
Baccala also was part of an investment group that bought nearly 20 acres of land in Mount Pleasant last summer for $9.3 million.
During a trip to Charleston in late July, he described plans to build a health care rehabilitation center on about one-third of the land near the traffic circle that connects Park West Boulevard with Grey Marsh Road. He planned to sell the rest to commercial developers.
Charleston County records show that the land is still held in his name, but a partner in the project said Baccala is no longer involved. Nizibian said that none of the money that's part the lawsuit was invested in the Park West site.