Natomas School Board To Vote On Land Deal Settlement

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

A final settlement in an infamous land deal which has haunted the Natomas Unified School District for years will be the topic of a special board meeting Wednesday, Jan. 30.

School board members are scheduled to review and vote on a final settlement agreement with West Lakeside LLC and Mark Skreden, the two remaining defendants in a lawsuit which originally alleged the district was swindled when it overpaid $10 million for a 41-acre school site west of Interstate 5 in Natomas.

As proposed, the settlement agreement would have the Natomas school district pay West Lakeside LLC $550,000 in attorney’s fees and, at the same time, uphold the original Purchase Sale Agreement from Nov. 28, 2006.

A copy of the binding letter agreement in the settlement of litigation signed Jan. 11 by Superintendent Chris Evans lists more than a dozen points meant to end legal proceedings related to the land deal.

In November 2006 the Natomas Unified school board approved the purchase of a new high school site on vacant agricultural land west of I-5 near Del Paso Road.

In May 2009, a Sacramento County Grand Jury report found the sales price paid by the district was “greatly inflated” and that the attorney hired by the school district failed to disclose “past dealings with West Lakeside LLC and AKT Development and the conflict of interest.”

On Sept. 17, 2009 the school district filed a lawsuit which sought to have the $13.4 million transaction with AKT Investments Inc. and West Lakeside LLC rescinded as well as the district’s overpayment refunded. The school district also asked for punitive damages, attorney fees and court costs.

The defendants named in the lawsuit included attorney Martin Steiner; real estate broker Mark Skreden; appraiser Christopher Ferguson; the partnership of Hefner, Stark & Marois, LLP; West Lakeside LLC; AKT Investments Inc.; and Ferguson & Associates, Inc.

In February 2012, Steiner and the law firm where he works Hefner, Stark & Marois LLP agreed to pay $2.6 million to settle the lawsuit. According to the Natomas Unified School District,$5.6 million has been recovered to date.

The board meeting is scheduled to start 7:30 p.m. It will be held at the school district offices located at 1901 Arena Boulevard.


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