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Petaluma businessman to pay $21 million to settle lawsuit

Seventy-five people who sued a Petaluma real estate agent after he failed to return millions of dollars in investments secured by southeastern nursing homes and a Colusa mushroom farm have settled the case for $21 million, lawyers for both sides said Tuesday.

Under the terms of a stipulated judgement, expected to be finalized in April, investors will state that Aldo Baccala did not commit fraud or other wrongdoing when he defaulted on loans he received over the past decade.

The investors also said they wouldn?t pursue other legal action against Baccala and agreed to a payback schedule requiring the sale of assets that could take years.

?We have resolved the case,? said the investors? lawyer, Michael Maloney. ?My clients are happy. It?s a long, drawn-out process.?

Baccala?s lawyer, John MacConaghy, said the agreement was reached March 16 in a mediation conference attended by Baccala and about 40 plaintiffs.

Baccala agreed to resign from his management role in nursing homes in South Carolina and Georgia and plaintiffs could begin liquidating the properties when the real estate market rebounds.

?Mr. Baccala has always admitted he owed the money,? MacConaghy said. ?He was not prepared to admit he defrauded anybody.?

It was not immediately clear if a criminal investigation of Baccala?s business would continue.


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