White House crasher sued over wine tours

25th April, 2012 by Lucy Shaw

Virginia’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, has filed a lawsuit against White House party crasher Tareq Salahi, claiming he defrauded customers who bought from his website VirginiaWineTour.com.

Michaele and Tareq Salahi at the White House in 2009

Salahi and his then-wife Michaele gained notoriety in 2009 when they gatecrashed a White House state dinner hosted by president Obama for Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh.

The controversial stunt landed the pair on reality TV show The Real House Wives of D.C. for a season.

The lawsuit, filed on Monday, accuses Salahi and his companies 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.”

Some customers reported their tours were cancelled the morning they were scheduled due to a “vehicle malfunction.”

Others complained they were not taken to the wineries they were promised, that the mode of transportation wasn’t what was advertised, or that that refunds, even those promised in writing, were never delivered.

Cuccinelli said VirginiaWineTour.com displayed logos of several businesses, including United Airlines and Facebook, but that he had reason to believe that many, if not all, were not official partners.

Salahi is the sole director and presumed sole owner of Virginia Wine Tourism and the presumed sole member and manager of Celebration Entertainment Productions.

The companies offer winery tours through VirginiaWineTour.com ranging from $200 to $1,350 per day.

An attorney who represented Salahi in the past has not returned messages seeking comment.

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.

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