ENTERTAINMENT

Tareq Salahi sued over Virginia wine tours

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has sued White House party crasher Tareq Salahi, claiming Salahi cheated customers who purchased wine tours in northern Virginia.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Fauquier County Circuit Court accuses Salahi and his Virginia Wine Tourism Inc. and Celebration Entertainment Productions LLC of not delivering promised tours, not providing refunds for cancelled tours and misrepresenting businesses as "official partners."

In February, Cuccinelli settled a complaint against Salahi and his Journey for the Cure Foundation for making false statements, submitting inaccurate financial statements and soliciting donations without being registered with the state.

Tareq and his wife, Michaele, gained notoriety in 2009 when they crashed a White House state dinner.

An attorney who represented Salahi in the past did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Cuccinelli's office said Salahi is the sole officer, director and presumed sole owner of Virginia Wine Tourism and the presumed sole member and manager of Celebration Entertainment Productions.

The companies offer tours of wineries through the web site VirginiaWineTour.com that can range from $200 to $1,350 per day and more for weeklong charters.

Cuccinelli accuses Salahi and his companies of violating the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits the deception of consumers. He said in a statement that the lawsuit was filed based on complaints filed with the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau and an investigation by his office.

Some customers reported their tours were cancelled the morning they were scheduled to begin due to a "vehicle malfunction," and that some never heard from the company again.

Some complained they were not taken to the wineries they were promised or that the mode of transportation wasn't what was advertised.

Others complained that refunds, even those promised in writing, were never delivered. Cuccinelli said VirginiaWineTour.com's web site also displayed logos of several businesses as "official partners," including United Airlines, the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia and Facebook, but that he had reason to believe that many, if not all, were not partners.

In the lawsuit, Cuccinelli asks for civil penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation and requests that VirginiaWineTour.com be required to return money to those are deemed to have been defrauded.

 The publicity-seeking couple has stayed in the spotlight since the state dinner incident. Michaele Salahi was a cast member of the reality show "Real Housewives of D.C.," but the show was canceled after one season.

She was thrown off the reality show "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" when it became apparent she wasn't addicted to anything.

Last year, Tareq reported that his wife had been abducted but it turned out she had run off with Journey guitarist Neal Schon. Tareq later sued Michaele for $50 million, claiming her affair with the guitarist was part of a calculated attempt to make money for herself and the band at his expense.

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