04.10.12

Tareq Salahi’s $50M Suit Against Michaele, Schon, Journey Thrown Out

Salahi has been handed a major setback in his multimillion-dollar legal battle against his estranged wife, Michaele. Is it time for the former reality star to throw in the towel and get on with his life? ‘Cirque du Salahi’ author Diane Dimond reports.

It may be time for Tareq Salahi to come up with a new life plan.

A circuit-court judge in Warren County, Va., has dealt what could be a death blow to Salahi’s alienation of affection lawsuit against his estranged wife, Michaele, her lover guitarist, Neal Schon, and his rock band, Journey. Judge Dennis Hupp ruled the $50 million claim was “not legally sufficient” to go forward and tossed it, though he gave Salahi and his attorney 21 days to amend the complaint and return to court.

The Salahis rose to fame when they were accused of crashing a party at the White House in November 2009, and they appeared on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of DC. But the show was canceled in April 2011 after one season, and just months later Michaele left Tareq for the rock star.

Over the last seven months, Tareq’s legal maneuvers have seemed odd. He first filed for divorce three days after Michaele’s sudden departure on Sept. 13, 2011, but dropped that action and two months later threatened to replace it with a $17 million lawsuit naming Michaele and Neal as co-conspirators in a plot to “humiliate and embarrass” him and deprive him of career success.

Somewhere along the line that suit blossomed into the $50 million alienation of affection suit—filed on Valentine’s Day 2012—that the judge scuttled Tuesday. It is not clear at this writing whether attorney Georgia Rossiter will rework the suit or drop out of representing Tareq altogether. She and Tareq declined repeated requests for comment.

Interestingly, Judge Hupp left Michaele’s countersuit for defamation of character in place, and The Daily Beast has confirmed she does plan to pursue it vigorously. The 46-year-old blonde filed the $850,000 suit in early March, after Tareq repeatedly referred to her in the press as a “groupie slut” and other derogatory names. And although he was once a champion of Michaele’s nearly two-decade-long fight with multiple sclerosis, Tareq suddenly cast doubt on her claims of poor health. This despite the fact that he went along with his wife as she underwent a barrage of neurological tests last year—filmed and broadcast by the television show Inside Edition—which definitively revealed Michaele suffers from multiple M.S. brain lesions.

Tareq has maintained that Journey profited from an uptick in ticket sales after all the publicity surrounding the sensational Salahi split, and he believes he is entitled to part of that money—plus some more for his humiliation.

Also spurring Michaele to continue pressing the defamation suit is Tareq’s repeated complaint that Neal Schon sent him a picture of his penis on the night Michaele left and called him to brag, “Hey, I’m f--king your wife!” Schon firmly denies that he ever sent such a picture and told The Daily Beast, “I was on stage performing in Nashville that night—all night. I never called Tareq. I didn’t have time to call Tareq.”

The 43-year-old Tareq recently revealed in an interview with Washingtonian magazine that he is already thinking about the next chapter of his life. He claims he has finally found peace in his long-simmering grudge against his mother and is making plans to reopen the family’s Oasis winery in some fashion. A Virginia winery source who asked not to be identified, citing fears about being pulled into the Salahi feud, confirms Tareq has recently approached former employees with offers of jobs at his new Oasis venture. This person also cast doubt on whether the grapevines at Oasis would have survived a long period of neglect.

“I went to the winery when I was in Virginia for Thanksgiving,” said Tina Pray, a former girlfriend of Tareq’s. “The casks were empty and forlorn, the vines were dead and dying ... not tended at all. It was very sad to see.”

It is not clear whether attorney Georgia Rossiter will rework the suit or drop out of representing Tareq altogether.

Tareq told the Washingtonian that most of his outstanding debts have been discharged since he and his mother filed for bankruptcy. But troubles loom. The home he shared with Michaele in Hume, Va., is now in foreclosure, and the fate of her belongings, which she left behind in September, remain in doubt. And while he told the magazine he has returned to “sponsoring polo events”—the genesis of much of his past bad credit problems—he seems most excited talking about his new plan to launch an Oasis-based cooking and wine TV show.

“We’re only in the beginning stage with agents, production, and formatting,” he told Washingtonian. “We’re going to announce it in the fall or early winter. I’ll be involved in one way or another on camera, but the focus is the food, the wine, and the people.”

Just who might be involved or which TV network might buy such a program remains a mystery. Bravo has said it is “absolutely not interested” in doing business with Tareq Salahi again.

The Salahis still need to get a divorce, and Judge Hupp has it on his court calendar to set a trial date for sometime later this year. That is, unless, the two parties can come to an out-of-court agreement. In the past, Tareq threatened to the Washingtonian that if Michaele didn’t settle her “few million dollars in debt” from the marriage, he would go full steam ahead to push for a public trial. “And we’ll call everyone to testify—Journey, the whole band, their wives, their girlfriends,” he said, apparently relishing the thought of getting back at Schon and the band.

Now that the $50 million suit seems less probable, Tareq may see the wisdom in cutting his losses.

While Tareq remains in Virginia deciding his next move, Michaele and Schon live in his multimillion-dollar home on a hill outside San Francisco and appear deliriously happy. Neal is working on his next solo album and basking in the popularity of his latest music video, “Resonate,” which, not surprisingly, features him and Michaele in romantic beachside poses. The Journey star is embroiled in his own legal tussle—a palimony suit filed by a former girlfriend.

When both of them are free of their pasts, will they then get married? As the Magic 8-Ball might predict: chances are good. Very good, indeed.