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Bear River coach sued over $20,000 loan

Figueroa says he plans to pay back money in 60 days
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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An Auburn couple is suing a high school coach after waiting for almost a year for a $20,000 loan to be repaid. Walter Saunders, 76, and his wife, Romona Saunders, 77, filed a civil lawsuit last month, and a report with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office last week, saying Kevin Figueroa owes them the money. Figueroa, 45, a wrestling coach at Bear River for the past two years, says he intends to pay the couple back within the next 60 days. The lawsuit claims that the plaintiffs, including Kevin, Brian, Christopher, Ronald and Angelina Figueroa, should be held responsible for financial elder abuse and conspiracy to commit fraud. The lawsuit, filed by the Saunders’ Cedar Ridge attorney Craig Diamond, states that the couple has “suffered mental anguish, pain, economic and non-economic damages.” When contacted Tuesday, the couple declined to comment, stating they wanted to let the legal process take its course. While the couple filed a report last week with the Sheriff’s Office, no criminal charges have been filed at this time. Figueroa says the lawsuit adds on to what has been a rough year. “It’s been the toughest damn year I’ve ever gone through in my entire life,” Kevin Figueroa said Tuesday. According to the lawsuit, the Saunders hired Figueroa Landscaping, based in the Lake of the Pines area, in July 2007 to work on their Auburn property. Kevin Figueroa, who works for his parents’ company, befriended the Saunders. The lawsuit claims that the Saunders now believe that Kevin Figueroa befriended them so he could later ask them for a loan. In February 2008, Kevin Figueroa asked the couple for a $20,000 loan to help “restock” the nursery, according to the civil lawsuit. He told them that his father needed the money to bide some time as he tried to buyout the company’s partner. A secure promissory note dated Feb. 6, 2008 and signed by Kevin Figueroa and Walter Saunders, states that Kevin Figueroa would repay the loan on or before April 15, 2008. As a sign of good faith, Kevin Figueroa said he would leave a landscaping pickup truck worth about $20,000 on the couple’s property. The couple stated they did not receive the 1988 Ford pickup truck until seven months after that promise. Kevin Figueroa said when he dropped the truck off in what he recalled as a timeframe between August and October, it was the last time he had talked to or heard from the Saunders. He said he explained his family’s condition. “When I went over there and I submitted my truck, I said, ‘This is what I’m working on. It’s taking a little while, but I’m taking on responsibility myself,’” Kevin Figueroa said. The couple argued in its lawsuit that Kevin Figueroa and his family have ignored multiple calls. Kevin Figueroa says that’s not true and he has not received any calls from the Saunders. Figueroa said he and his family are trying to not only repay the Saunders, but also regain their family property, including the Fig Landscaping business and their home. He said the problem started when his parents wanted to buy out their silent partner. The partner demanded $1.5 million from the Figueroas, they argued the most they owed was $600,000. Kevin Figueroa said in 2007 they lost a separate lawsuit with the partner “on a technicality because we hired a horrible attorney.” Following that, the family tried to get two loans to cover the $1.5 million but could not get the second loan. He said he went to the Saunders to get a $20,000 loan to cover payroll. When the Figueroas could not pay the $1.5 million, the silent partner seized their property and assets, according to Kevin Figueroa. Since then, the family has been ordered to leave their property and have not been able to return, he said. Kevin Figueroa said the family plans to file legal actions against the partner for “illegally seizing” their property. Kevin Figeuroa said the partner is named Pete Brunello, but he did not have any current contact information. Prior to the Saunders’ civil lawsuit, Kevin Figueroa has been listed as a defendant in two other civil lawsuits brought against him, according to Placer County Superior Court records. In 2000, Travelers Voluntary filed a consumer/credit collection complaint against Fig’s Landscaping. The case was dismissed May 14, 2001 on lack of prosecution. In 2001, Creditors Adjustment Bureau, Inc. listed Kevin and Christopher Figueroa as a defendant in a similar complaint. The case was dropped in July 2003. Figueroa said that he plans to pay the Saunders back their $20,000 within the next 60 days. “It looks like in the next 60 days my parents and I will have enough money to pay off that loan and a couple other loans together,” Kevin Figueroa said. Bear River’s athletic director was unavailable for comment late Tuesday afternoon. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment.