Brothers Roger and Basil Mills are still defending themselves against a wide array of lawsuits.
One of the latest involves a company contracted by Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., Watsonville, Calif., to grow strawberries between 2008 and 2009. That company, Ramco Enterprises, Salinas, Calif., garnered a $61,000 payout by a Mills’ company, Boss Farms, in December after Ramco was caught up in Boss Farms’ legal trouble.
Lakeland Financial Ltd., owner of 125 acres Boss Farms subleased to Ramco, filed suit against Boss Farms last spring, claiming Boss Farms didn’t have the right to sublease the property to Ramco for 14 months and $438,000.
Lakeland also claimed Boss Farms failed to notify it of the sublease arrangement.
Ramco, in its own court filings, said it could lose $6 million worth of Driscoll strawberries if the land was seized before the November 2009 final harvest.
Mills’ attorney, Paul Hart, did not return a request for comment by deadline. Ramco’s attorney, Soren Diaz, also did not return a request for comment.
Mills Family Farms stopped operations July 2008 and faces lawsuits from many creditors. The company got into financial trouble after investing heavily in Monterey County’s once booming real estate market by building residential subdivisions.
After the housing market crashed in 2008, those subdivisions, including the luxury Monterey development Monterra, entered foreclosure.
Three investors in Monterra are also suing Roger and Basil Mills for $1.6 million claiming the Mills breached their contracts and haven’t paid them back on their investments.
According to court documents, as early as 2002, Arthur Smith Jr., Melena Scampa and Douglas Graham, all agreed to front hundreds of thousands of dollars and each take out $900,000 loans to purchase Monterra lots. The lawsuits allege the Mills secretly changed their title agreements and were forced to take payment out of escrow — contrary what they agreed — in an attempt to increase the value of the Monterra lots.
Michael Lykken, the attorney for Smith, Scampa and Graham, said mortgages for two his clients were eventually paid but one remains outstanding and none have been returned the money they invested.
“It was pretty clear what they were doing,” Lykken said of the Mills and the title company.
A February court hearing for the case was canceled and Lykken said he didn’t know when the next hearing will be set because he was still awaiting Mills to answer his lawsuit filed in September.