With Mayor John Valdivia’s final days in office moving toward a countdown, the prospect of property in Verdemont that was burdened with several thousand tons of shattered concrete more than two years ago being reclaimed for development any time soon is fading.
Earlier this year, a New York-based development company had swooped in with a plan to obtain the Verdemont property, located in what is the northernmost district within the San Bernardino City Limits along the 215 Freeway south of Devore, at a low enough price to allow it to remove the concrete to a nearby location to crush it and then return it to the site where it would be used as fill to even out the sloping of the property to render it developable.
According to the principal in the company that had those hopes, however, the same entities who had been involved in locating the concrete onto the property in the first place violated an agreement that would have allowed the prospective developer to make a reasonable profit on the venture by alerting other investors who then interloped, making the combined task of securing the property and dealing with the concrete prohibitively expensive.
A chain of events created the current circumstance.On June 5, 2020, a fire broke out in the 600,000-square foot Kuehne & Nagel warehouse, located in the 2200 block of West Lugonia Avenue in Redlands. The structure had served as a holding/distribution/dispatch facility for large items sold by on-line retail behemoth Amazon. The fire gutted the building, which was a total loss.
The concrete walls were torn down. Initial plans were to haul them off to whatever landfill would take them changed when Eric Cernich, the principal officer with Newport Beach-based Oxbow Communities, Inc. indicated he had a use for the over one thousand tons of fragmented concrete.
Some but not all of what occurred next is known, with some events opaque. Cernich ingratiated himself with Mayor Valdivia, first with a $750 donation to Valdivia’s campaign fund on July 14, 2020, which he followed up with another $750 installment on September 8, 2020. Greenleaf Engineering of Huntington Beach, owned by Tim Greenleaf, who had the contract for the demolition of the Kuehne & Nagel warehouse and relocating its concrete walls to San Bernardino, made an effort to get on Valdivia’s good side, providing his election fund with $2,000, likewise provided in two increments, in Greanleaf’s case, $1,000 each, one on October 2, 2020 and the other on October 7, 2020.
In August 2020, Verdemont District residents noted that dump trucks were transiting up Palm Avenue and depositing massive loads of the large shards and chunks of shattered concrete onto vacant land near the Oxbow project site. When they queried of San Bernardino city officials what was happening, they were told that Oxbow Communities had clearance from the city to utilize the concrete as fill. If they would just be patient, those residents were told, the eyesore would disappear as the concrete was pulverized and ground into manageable-sized pieces and mixed with dirt to be thereafter compacted so it might disappear under the foundations of the homes that were to built and the yards and lawns that would eventually surround those homes.
It has not been spelled out, exactly, who gave Cernich and Greenleaf the permission to import the shattered concreted to the Verdemont location, some 12.5 miles away from the burned-out Kuehne & Nagel warehouse as the crow flies or variously 15.6 miles or 18.3 miles distant via differing routes using the local freeway system. They may have been acting merely on an unwritten understanding with Valdivia that moving the concrete would be okay. There is no indication that anyone at City Hall, at the time, registered an objection. There was no permit issued for the relocation of the concrete from Redlands to San Bernardino.
The concrete was deposited at the far extension of Palm Avenue in North San Bernardino’s Verdemont District, the intended site for the so-called Oxbow project, a planned development of 40 single-family residential units by Newport Beach-based Oxbow Communities, Inc., which had been on the drawing board for nearly a decade-and-a-half. Throughout that entire time, the project was on hold. There had been a number of financial, practical and administrative considerations that were preventing the project from moving forward. A key obstruction was that the land upon which the project was to be built was uneven and would require either intensive grading and then hillside reinforcement or the introduction of fill into the low-lying side of the property or its crevices to render it level.
The emerging availability of the concrete from the Kuehne & Nagel warehouse represented what appeared to be an ideal solution to Eric Cernich, Oxbow Communities’ principal. With the approval of Redlands city officials, Cernich arranged to have the concrete walls partially broken up at the Lugonia Avenue property. He then had the concrete trucked over to the Oxbow project site.
When the wind kicked up in the funnel below Devore stretching south to San Bernardino, between, on the east, the Shandin Hills and, on the west, the badlands that stretch westward toward Lytle Creek, the people in the neighborhood found themselves, their houses, cars and pets peppered and pelted with dust and concrete fragments anywhere from the size of sand to pebbles. There was concern that the concrete itself was not stable physically or chemically and that it represented a safety and health hazard. When City Hall was met with complaints, then-City Manager Teri Ledoux at first sought to downplay the problem, offering an assurance that the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards contained in its Land Development and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System guidelines rated the concrete as a low-level or nonexistent health threat.
Residents countered that the dozens of heavily-laden diesel trucks carrying the concrete to its destination were spewing exhaust into the air and tearing up the surface of Palm Avenue.
At that point, in late September and early October 2020, then-Fifth Ward Councilman Henry Nickel, in whose ward the Verdemont District lies, was locked in a reelection effort. For him, the matter represented both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge consisted of the perception that City Hall was insensitive to the problem, the visual blight and the inconvenience the presence of the concrete represented to the community, and that Nickel was likewise insensitive to the problem or, if he was indeed empathetic to the plight of his constituents, that he was ineffective in bringing about a resolution to the dilemma. The opportunity the situation presented to Nickel was that if he acted effectively in redressing the issue, he would gain, or retain, a reputation as an effective representative of the Fifth Ward, and that would redound to his benefit in his reelection effort.
Accordingly Nickel was the city council’s most vocal critic of what Oxbow Communities was doing, and he demanded that the city ensure that the processing of the concrete – further crushing or grinding to reduce it into composite for fill – take place offsite so as to obviate the generation of dust and particulates that would represent a health threat to those in the area who were breathing it.
City staff took samples of the concrete, intending to subject them to tests to ascertain if the material represented a toxic threat to nearby residents.
In October, Nickel in conjunction with then-Seventh Ward Councilman Jim Mulvihill, who was also up for reelection in November, convinced two of their colleagues – Sandra Ibarra and Juan Figueroa – to issue a demand to Oxbow Communities and Cernich that the concrete be removed, and that any processing of the concrete – crushing, grinding or pulverizing – be carried out offsite.
Councilmen Theodore Sanchez and Fred Shorett, who reasoned that allowing Oxbow to keep the concrete onsite so it could be processed to be used as fill would expedite the progression toward the ultimate completion of the Oxbow project, were opposed to giving Cernich any such ultimatum. Then-Councilwoman Bessine Richard was absent from the October 21, 2020 city council meeting, and did not vote on holding Cernich and Oxbow to account. If she had been present and had voted with Sanchez and Shorett, that would have given Mayor John Valdivia authority to veto the vote by Nickel, Mulvihill, Ibarra and Figueroa.
Under normal circumstances, Valdivia, as mayor, is not empowered to vote. He does, however, have veto authority on 4-to-3 or 3-to-2 votes. Since the vote to order the removal of the concrete had passed on a 4-to-2 vote, Valdivia did not have the reach to veto it.
Valdivia was motivated to assist Cernich in keeping the concrete at the Verdemont site because he figured the $1,500 he had already received from him and the $2,000 he had gotten from Greenleaf would ultimately be augmented by more money yet.
In the November 2020 election, Ben Reynoso and Damon Alexander defeated, respectively, Nickel and Mulvihill in the Fifth and Seventh Ward races. On December 16, 2020, Reynoso and Alexander were sworn into office to replace Nickel and Mulvihill. The same day, Kimberly Calvin likewise took the oath of office to replace Bessine Richard as the councilwoman in the Sixth District, based upon Calvin’s narrow victory over Richard in the March 2020 Primary Election.
If Cernich had hopes of convincing the council to allow the concrete to remain onsite so he could crush it there and combine it with dirt before pouring and compacting it into the crevices and ravines at the site where the subdivision is to be built, that was dashed when Reynoso proved every bit as adamant as Nickel in seeing the concrete removed and Oxbow Development prevented from crushing it on site.
In December 2000 or thereabouts, Cernich handed the Oxbow project off to another entity, Carson-based Pacific Coast International Group. In turn, Pacific Coast International created a sub-entity, Palm Avenue Development, based in Irvine, to see the residential subdivision built.
The council at some point in a closed session resolved to mandate that the concrete be removed. On January 15, 2021, Oxbow Communities, Inc., along with Pacific Coast International/Palm Avenue Development and Jazzar Construction Group, parallel entities involved in the Oxbow project, were presented with a notice that the city was giving the new Oxbow project developer 30 days to remove the concrete.
The city indicated that if an effort to remove the concrete was not under way by January 25, 2021 and substantial progress toward the complete removal of the concrete was not made by February 14, 2021 it would undertake to do that removal and slap a lien against the property to ultimately recover its costs in carrying out that job.
February 14, 2021 came and went without any of the concrete being removed.
The city then sought to make good on its threat, seeking from the San Bernardino County Superior Court authorization to go onto Pacific Coast International’s property at the top of Palm Avenue and begin the removal of the concrete rubble. Superior Court Judge Charles Umeda granted the city’s request for the warrant to do the abatement, contingent upon the city giving Pacific Coast International 24 hour’s notice via posting at the site or 48 hours notice by U.S. Mail or email delivered to the head of Jazzar Construction Group, Ronald Aljazzar.
On April 7, 2021, the city council voted to authorize the expenditure of $2 million toward the concrete removal effort, slating the work to begin on April 12 and proceed at a steady pace, such that the debris would be removed 50 days hence, on June 1, 2021. The work was to be done by Cemex, a Mexican multinational building materials company with California corporate headquarters in Ontario. City officials calculated that they would be able to recover the city’s cost s of removing the concrete, as Oxbow Communities/Pacific Coast International/Palm Avenue Development/Jazzar Construction Group would be required to satisfy the $2 million lien before construction on the Oxbow subdivision could proceed.
The vote to give Cemex the concrete removal assignment passed 4-to-3, with Reynoso, Calvin, Councilwoman Sandra Ibarra and Councilman Damon Alexander prevailing, and councilmen Fred Shorett, Ted Sanchez and Juan Figueroa dissenting. Valdivia then vetoed the approval of the abatement plan.
Sanchez, Shorett and Figueroa expressed the belief that subjecting the developer to the cost of removing the concrete from the site and carrying out the processing of the material elsewhere before relocating back to the site where it was to be used to form the base beneath the subdivision would be prohibitively expensive and that once the material was removed it would never make its way back and the project would be abandoned, with the land lying fallow for another 15 years and there being no prospect of the city ever collecting on the lien. Additionally, though they saw the concrete having been dumped out in the open as it was being something of a nuisance, Sanchez in particular and Shorett and Figueroa to a lesser extent were unpersuaded that the concrete represented any real health risk. What’s more, the trio figured, were the city to ultimately come into possession of the property, that would prove more of a burden than a blessing, as the property would remain undevelopable, such that there would be little likelihood that the $2 million could be recouped.
Shorett, who prides himself as being pro-development, did not want to see the city surrender the prospect of having upscale homes built at the site.
It was Sanchez’s contention that the fears expressed by some residents that the concrete represented a health hazard did not comport with actuality.
“The concrete has been tested by two scientific labs and they have found it is not toxic,” Sanchez told the Sentinel on April 22, 2021. “It will not be hazardous to crush it where it is, as long as it is done correctly. What will be far more hazardous is making thousands of trips using diesel-fueled trucks to get it out of there. The ideal way is for the developer to crush it onsite and then use it as fill along with earth that will be compacted to even out the ground, because those houses cannot be built on those slopes. Doing it any other way at this point will be difficult and will cost millions of dollars.”
An issue with the crushing of the concrete is that it will be to some degree powderized into particulates that when stirred up by the wind could spread over the area. Those breathing that concrete dust could suffer lung damage. A methodology that could be applied, building industry sources have said, would be to spray the concrete with water as it is being cut, crushed or stamped into smaller fragments to anchor the dust, after which the final product would be covered until it is mixed with dirt and pressed into place as the base for the construction site.
Sanchez acknowledged that the wind does blow debris from the piles upon piles of concrete mounded about the neighborhood. He also acknowledged that Valdivia had an “ulterior motive” in seeking to help out the developer. Nevertheless, Sanchez said, working out a solution to the circumstance that avoided trucking the concrete away and back while getting the project site ready for development was the best way to approach the quandary.
Sanchez said he was certain that Reynoso and Calvin could not be persuaded to allow the concrete to be processed onsite to redress the property contour issues so the project could move ahead and that it was doubtful Ibarra could be made to come around and support Pacific Coast International/Palm Avenue Development/Jazzar Construction Group, either. He did hold out hope, however, that Alexander would see his way clear to fall in line with him, Shorett and Figueroa in forming a coalition with regard to letting Pacific Coast International/Palm Avenue Development/Jazzar Construction Group use the concrete fill too expedite the completion of the Oxbow subdivision.
The project and the concrete remained idle for the next eight months, during which time Pacific Coast International/Palm Avenue Development/Jazzar Construction Group put the property – roughly 18.45 acres divided into several parcels – up for sale through its corporate subdivision Pacific Coast International Group, LLC.
This caught the attention of Pleasant Valley, New York-based New York Innovate Builders, LLC and its principal, Hossam Awadallah. Awadallah was convinced that he could obtain the property’s various parcels, assemble them, prepare them for development and make a sale of all of the acreage involved to an entity that would follow through with the development.
Under the guise of another of his corporate entities, Sell For Cash Quickly, LLC, Awadallah contacted Cernich, signaling to him he was ready to purchase the property as it was, concrete and all, with the intent to develop it. Cernich told him he had sold the property to Omar Ronald Aljazzar, a real estate broker and the principal in Pacific Coast International Group, LLC.
In referencing the concrete, both Cernich and Aljazzar characterized it as a “small issue” and that the city had initially granted permission for it to be crushed onsite, such that upon the crushing of the concrete the grading for the project could be initiated immediately to save an estimated $400,000 in development that would add profit to the project. Awadallah offered to purchase the property for $1 million, anticipating that he might need to transfer the concrete offsite to crush it before returning it. Shortly thereafter Aljazzar sent Awadallah an email informing him that he could arrange a “resolution” with the city whereby New York Innovative Builders would be able to crush the concrete onsite, whereupon Awadallah upped his offer to $1.3 million. Aljazzar thereafter offered an assurance he could, before the end of March 2022, have permission from the city to do the concrete smashing onsite and that therefore the sale offer price had risen to $1.7 million, contingent upon Pacific Coast delivering to New York Innovate Builders the onsite concrete crushing permit.
Awadallah, who was looking to make a quick closing of the $1.7 million deal, was waiting for Aljazzar to provide him with the crushing permit. To Awadallah’s inquiries as to why it was not forthcoming, Aljazzar told him he was going eyeball-to-eyeball with the city over the concrete crushing permitting process and that “If the city continues to stall the project, our legal team is ready to litigate for damages.” This encouraged Awadallah to persist with the planned purchase. Eventually, Awadallah would learn the city rejected providing the “resolution” Aljazzar was so confident of getting and that Aljazzar had never sued the city as he said he would.
Despite this, Awadallah was enthusiastic about proceeding with the purchase.
“Regardless of all of that, I said, ‘Why not just do the right thing and give the people of San Bernardino and the City of San Bernardino what they want, instead of trying to muscle and strongarm them into giving give us a resolution they clearly didn’t want to grant?’” Awadallah told the Sentinel.
According to Awadallah, it would not be prohibitively expensive to crush and process the concrete for use as fill at the construction site. He said he was informed that there was a spot “about 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet away” to which the concrete could be trucked and crushed. It could then be brought back and put in place at the project site and compacted, Awadallah said. “It was hard to get an exact figure,” Awadallah said. I called a few companies and the most I’ve heard was around $450,00. Some were less than a couple hundred grand. One was less than $200,000.”
Accordingly, Awadallah said, he was all for closing the deal on purchasing the property for as much as $1.7 million, moving the concrete and crushing it, and then prepping the property for construction. There was no need to get litigious, he said.
“When it comes to the health and well being of people, saying you’ll sue the city shouldn’t even be in the discussion, period. Growing up personally with asthma was a rough experience for me, so I’m sure the city had its reasons for denying the crushing onsite. I’ve repeatedly told Ron [Aljazzar] to give the city what it wants. Let’s stop trying to to muscle them.”
He continued, “Hypothetically, if you sue the city and win, how could you sleep at night it there was a 0.01 percent chance a child can get hurt due to reckless behavior for a buck? That’s why my initial offer of $1 million then then the $1.3 million was to by the land as is and I wanted to give the city want to develop the community. Ron Aljazzar continued to assure me the concrete was tested and there is no contamination. And it would not be a safety hazard. He told me he and his group would deal with the city directly to get the resolution and I wouldn’t need to jump through any hoops.”
Despite Awadallah’s enthusiasm and the potential he saw for eliminating the problem that had materialized with the discarding of the concrete in Verdemont, What Awadallah and his lawyers now characterize as greed on the part of Cernich and Aljazzar and interference by several other interlopers prevented him from following through on his plan.
In 2020, when Awadallah was looking at the Verdemont property as well as two others, including one in New York and New Jersey, he signaled to the construction industry that he was looking to do develop several subdivisions on property he was contemplating or in the process of tying up. He was contacted by Peter Burton with Burton Construction & Management, who indicated he had investors that might be interested in some of the project New York Innovative Builders had access to and wanted to form a partnership with Awadallah and his company if he could be compensated appropriately. In November 2021, Burton signed two agreements with Adwallah, one being a joint venture and non-disclosure agreement and the other a non-circumvention pact that would allow Burton to be compensated for the dealt that closed from his side if, in Awadallah’s judgment, it would move the projects he was working on ahead by being bought out on a specific phase of any of the California, New York or New Jersey projects by specific investors who were able to perform with regard to those project’s overarching goals. Thereafter, on December 9, 2021, Burton introduced Awadallah to Jelmar Pasco, the principal in Adupus Vitae, LLC, Charles Yi and Kevin Kim of Landmark Real Estate who was interested in the San Bernardino Project. Likewise Pasco, Yi and Kim executed a nondisclosure agreement and noncircumvention pact with Awadallah, which specifically called for noninterference with and nondisclosure to the sellers Awadallah was in contact with.
On January 5, 2022, Awadallah and Aljazzar on behalf of Pacific Coast International Group executed a purchase agreement, memorializing the purchase price of the property for $1,700,000 if the rock crushing Resolution was provided, with $100,000 due on February 28, 2022.
On January 19, 2022, to preserve the New York Innovative Builderss, LLC interests in the transaction with Pacific Coast International Group, LLC, Awadallah recorded a notice of intent to preserve interest on the Subject Property with the San Bernardino County Recorder’s Office.
Burton presented a proposal to Awadallah that he make a secondary sale of the property to Invictus Global Group, LLC, which was controlled by Yi and that Pasco and Kim work together with Burton to facilitate the sale of the property to Invictus.
In listening to Burton, Awadallah said, he was initially less than fully willing to embrace the proposal from Invictus, which wanted in on the Verdemont project and to essentially take it over entirely.
“When they presented their offer, I was hesitant,” Awadallah said. “I wanted to develop this myself, but Peter Burton kept on, persisting. He said, ‘Sell it to us (Invictus) for $2.5 million. He used all the tactics he could think of to butter me up and agree, which included a promise of partnership, starting a company together, giving me a percentage of the total construction revenue, 15 percent to 20 percent. So, I thought about it and thought he’s a man of his word. I said, ‘Why not? It’s almost a million dollars and could be more if the seller fails to provide the resolution from the city to do the concrete crushing on the site plus 15 percent to 20 percent of total construction revenue of a $20 million job to be bought out for my contractual rights. We’ll be developing the community together. Everyone’s happy. When I was presented with the offer Jelmar Pasco sent me, I thought with the agreement it was a done deal by then, just like any other transaction I’ve been involved in.”
On January 18, 2022, Awadallah and Yi/Invictus Global Group, LLC reached an agreed upon a purchase price of $2,500,000 for the porerty and on the same day a secondary purchase agreement was drawn up. That agreement was on the brink of being signed and executed, Awadallah said, but then things went bad.
“Then it was a complete 180,” he said., “totally contradicting everything. Obviously, at that point he never had any intention of fulfilling any of those promises.”
On February 28, 2022 Awalallah was prepared to pay Aljazzar the $100,000.00 down payment that was due. Aljazzar put him off and on March 4, 2022, during a Zoom call, Awadallah again sought to make the down payment. Aljazzar declined to accept the $100,000.00, stating that he was doing Awalallah a favor.
According to Awalallah, thereafter, Burton, Cernich Yi Invictus, Aaljazzar and Kim gave him “the run-around by “engaging in conduct that indicated that
none of them intended on honoring the terms of the January 5, 2022 purchase agreement.
On March 7, 2022, the January 18, 2022 secondary purchase
agreement pending between Awadallah and Yi/Invictus Global Groupo, LLC was revisited and revised into a subsequent one. On March 17, 2022, Awadallah signed the January 5, 2022 purchase agreement to execute the agreement of the sale of the property to Invictus for the purchase price of $2.68 million. Yi, however, did not sign the January 5, 2022 purchase agreement. Twelve days later, on March 29, 2022, Yi informed Awadallah that Invictus was withdrawing from negotiations to purchase the property from as part of the secondary purchase transaction that the parties had been working to finalize.
According to Awadallah’s attorney, Los Angeles-based James D. Hornbuckle, the January 5, 2022 purchase agreement between Awadallah and Pacific Coast International Group LLC was executed.
In a lawsuit brought on Awadallah’s behalf and filed in federal court in Riverside on October 21, Hornbuckle maintains that Defendant Peter Burton consistently tried to induce plaintiff to breach their non-disclosure agreement by improperly prompting Mr. Awadallah to introduce defendants Peter Burton, Jelmar Pasco, Kevin Kim and Charles Yi to defendants Eric Cernich and defendant Omar Ronald Aljazzar. Plaintiff was never willing to do such, as it would violate the non-
disclosure agreement and cause problems with the sale of the subject property.”
According to Hornbuckle, “On April 13, 2022, after receiving no word from any of the aforementioned defendants about closing escrow of the subject property for several months, plaintiff contacted defendant Peter Burton to inquire about the delay. During this phone call, defendant Burton informed plaintiff… that defendant Burton had breached their non-disclosure agreement by speaking to defendant Eric Cernich regarding the sale of the subject property.”
According to Hornbuckle, Burton told Awadallah that he had learned that Poacific Coast International had not in fact purchased the property from Cernich, Oxbow or any of Cernich’s related entities at the earlier purported price of $1.5 million and that “Pacific defendants Pacific Coast International Group, LLC and/or Omar Ronald Aljazzar got paid under the table to act as the strawman for Eric Cernich’s benefit and ‘there are work-arounds to the non-disclosure agreement.”
About two weeks later, according to Hornbuckle, Burton further breached the non-disclosure agreement by speaking to Cernich regarding the sale of the property without Awadallah’s consent, disclosing to Cernich that Yi and Invictus were interested in purchasing the property for $2.68 million dollars, $980,000 over the contract price of the January 5, 2022 purchase agreement.
According to the lawsuit, Burton’s provision of that information in defiance of the nondisclosure agreement resulted in Aljazzar and Pacific Coast International seeking to cancel the January 5, 2022 purchase agreement or circumvent the terms in order to sell the property for a higher price to Yi/Invictus.
“In essence, the defendants were working in concert with one another to cut
Plaintiff out of the deal once they learned plaintiff had a secondary purchaser for the subject property at a price that was higher than the $1,700,000 plaintiff was under contract to pay for the subject property.”
Once Aljazzar and Pacific Coast International were informed that Yi and Invictus were interested in purchasing the property for $2.68 million, they sought to circumvent Awadallah with the connivance of Burton and Cernich and interfered with Awadallah’s purchase of the property, according to the lawsuit. Burton was motivated, according to Hornbuckle, to cut Awadallah out as a middleman in the transaction and selling directly the property on behalf of Cernich and Aljazzar to obtain a higher commission on this deal, which is to be based on a percentage of construction revenue with Awadallah out of the picture.”
This violated the November 23, 2021 non-disclosure agreement, according to Hornbuckle. Pacific Coast International Group, LLC, Aljazzar, Burton, Burton Construction & Management, Inc.’s collective motive for breaching their contract with
Awadallah was to accept the higher offer offered by Yi on behalf
of Invictus Group, LLC to increase their respective profits. In doing so, according to Hornbuckle, Burton and Aljazzar breached their fiduciary duties as licensed real estate agents in the State of California, and further, intentionally
interfered with the January 5, 2022 purchase agreement.
According to Hornbuckle, Cernich and Aljazzar continuously failed to fulfill the terms of the January 5, 2022 purchase agreement by not obtaining the required details on the concrete crushing resolution in order to finally close escrow, and/or communicate with regard to that situation as was needed. Neither ever performed in producing from the city council a resolution to allow for on-site crushing of the concrete or specifying the precise location that was supposed to exist for the concrete crushing approximately 1,000 feet off-site. Compounding that, according to Hornbuckle, after Cernich and Aljazzar informed Awadallah that the city denied the permits to crush on-site at the property, they “failed to make any indication they intended to drop the purchase price from $1,700,000 to $1,300,000 as agreed upon should the rock [i.e., concrete] crushing resolution not be provided, let alone any indication they intended to close escrow and honor the January 5, 2022 purchase agreement.”
With Jelmar Pasco, according to the lawsuit, Burton breached their respective non-disclosure agreements by speaking to the City of San Bernardino regarding the terms of the January 5, 2022 purchase agreement without informing Awadallah or obtaining his consent.
Burton thereafter, according to the lawsuit, facilitated a fraudulent conveyance of the property to defendant Aberdeen Developers, LLC, controlled by Kyndra Mayo, thereby breaching the Joint Venture Agreement and Non-Disclosure Agreement by engaging in unauthorized communications and business practices.
Additionally, according to the lawsuit, an individual by the name of Gus Dahleh, which is quite possibly a fictional person, assisted the interlopers when he formed on or about July 19, 2022 a California limited liability company with exactly the same name as that company controlled by Awadallah, New York Innovative Builders, LLC, headquartered at 2516 Bayside Drive in Corona Del Mar, CA 92625.
Awadallah’s company is New York Innovative Builders, LLC, a New York limited liability company headquartered in Pleasant Valley, New York and incorporated in the State of New York.
The newly-created California limited liability company was then used to, according to the lawsuit, fraudulently record a “release of notice of intent to preserve interest” in the subject property. Dahleh signed the fraudulent release as a “member” of New York Innovative Builders, LLC just one day after the articles of incorporation for New York Innovative Builders was filed with the State of California.
In what Hornbuckle characterized as a “fraudulent” transaction, on or around August 24, 2022, Pacific Coast International Group, LLC transferred the property to Aberdeen Developers, LLC, by recording a grant deed with the San Bernardino County Recorder’s Office.
According to the lawsuit, there is cause to believe that Gus Dahleh or the individual using that name is the husband of Kyndra Mayo, the owner of Aberdeen Developers, LLC.
“Plaintiff is informed and believes, and on that basis thereon alleges, that defendant Gus Dahleh and defendant Kyndra Mayo are both personal and professional friends of defendant Omar Ronald Aljazzar, the owner of Pacific Coast International Group LLC.
According to the lawsuit, “the transfer of the subject property from defendant Pacific Coast International Group to defendant Aberdeen Developers, LLC was a fraudulent transfer done to avoid the almost certain liability that defendant Pacific Coast International, Group, LLC would incur as a result of its breach of the January 5, 2022 purchase agreement. According to the lawsuit, as of September 15, 2022 escrow on the August 24, 2022 transfer still had not closed. “Plaintiff has since construed this to mean Defendant Aberdeen Developers, LLC has not paid any of the alleged $1,500,000 purchase price as provided for on the grant deed between defendant Pacific Coast International Group, LLC and defendant Aberdeen Developers, LLC.”
As a consequence of the defendants’ actions and misdeeds, Awadallah has not obtained the property and has not been able to develop it himself or arrange for a legitimate developer to proceed with the project.
The situation created in Verdemont more than two years ago when Valdivia, in apparent exchange for campaign money, gave permission for the dumping of the concrete in a manner and at a location he did not have the authority to give yet remains. That dilemma will not be resolved before he leaves office.
“”It doesn’t take Einstein to put two and two together to see that there’s clearly more than what meets the surface,” Awadallah told the Sentinel this week. “It’s time for the people of San Bernardino to be heard, given the hazardous issue with the concrete pile. My uncle passed away due to COVID in late 2020 as a consequence of respiratory disease. That’s why I don’t take this lightly and what has happened to me and the people is infuriating.”
Graft and corruption are at play, Awadallah said, “especially with the fraud and conduct, forgery, misrepresentation, straw men purchases.
“I’d be willing to fly to San Bernardino specifically because for this issue and hear from the people of San Bernardino their side of the story,” he continued. “Fifteen years for a project to be developed is unheard of. We need to show that the people fo San Bernardino, the city, is not to be played for fools. We can stand up for what’s right. If someone chases monetary gain, it runs. How about focusing on serving the community and making good on promises, treating people the way you want to be treated and not trying to pull a fast one? I haven’t been to the circus in a while, but this surely looks and feels like one.”
With Mayor John Valdivia’s final days in office moving toward a countdown, the prospect of property in Verdemont that was burdened with several thousand tons of shattered concrete more than two years ago being reclaimed for development any time soon is fading.