Financial, legal woes grow for couple trying to sell Snell Isle mansion on market for $18 million
Wake up and good morning. Financial and legal pressures continue to build against St. Petersburg residents David Rau and wife Michelle, who are fighting bank lawsuits and allegations of deception by their computer training school as it was going broke. The Rau couple bought the landmark waterfront Snell Isle mansion at 375 Brightwaters Blvd, N.E., for $5.1 million in 2006, renovated extensively, and recently put it on the market for $18 million. (Photo: Scott Keeler, St. Petersburg Times.)
When listed in December, the Snell Isles estate was the highest priced Pinellas County listing on the Multiple Listing Service. Here's a detailed listing.
A St. Petersburg Times story on March 27 outlined how BB&T had sued the Raus and their school, ComputerTraining.com, alleging they defaulted on a $1.5-million loan. In a separate suit, BB&T alleges the company spread false and misleading statements about the bank's role in the demise of the 25-campus school, located in Hunt Valley, Md. ComputerTraining.com certified students to work on Microsoft operating systems. The Raus have countered that the recession hurt their business and a lack of credit for student loans sharply cut enrollment in their school.
Since that story, the Raus' woes have deepened. Last week, a Detroit News report said a Michigan law firm filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit ComputerTraining.com for continuing to attract new students in latter 2009 through radio ads after officials knew it was going broke. The lawsuit, which seeks class action status for students in 14 states, states:
"During the second half of 2009, the ComputerTraining defendants ... began an admissions push that included hiring numerous additional salespeople, increasing the compensation and commissions to such persons, slashing tuition at many schools, and/or enrolling as many students as possible."
David Rau, in a Baltimore Sun story in late March, indicated he plans to file for bankruptcy while he tries to sell his St. Petersburg home. Here's more from a Tampa Bay Business Journal story last December.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist