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More legal woes for Petetit, PB Companies 

Legal troubles continue to mount for a SLO Developer and his former company and business associates.

A lawsuit filed in SLO County Superior Court June 15 names developer Ryan Petetit, his former business associates John Belsher and Russell Sheppel, and their former development companies as defendants, alleging charges of breach of contract and property damage related to a troubled development deal in Arroyo Grande.

According to the lawsuit, Petetit, then a partner with PB Companies, approached one of the plaintiffs, Johnathan Westbay, about purchasing and developing the property in 2011. But from there, the deal and relationship between Westbay and Petetit deteriorated. 

The lawsuit claims that Petetit asked the plaintiff to participate in an illegal transaction related to the property’s title. It also alleges that nearly five years passed with little to no development occurring at the property and that Petetit and his partners wrote more than $27,000 in bad checks to pay their portion of the mortgage, forcing Westbay to pay an estimated $16,000 out of pocket for mortgage payments on the property.

The lawsuit claims that Westbay worked out multiple agreements with Petetit and PB Companies to recuperate money that was owed to him from the project, but in many of those instances, Petite, PB Company, Belsher, and Sheppel failed to make good on those agreements, claiming they committed “several acts of fraud, deception, negligence, and malice” toward Westbay, who suffered severe health effects as a result of the stress. 

“The severe anxiety caused [Westbay] to experience extreme pain in the chest and heart,” the complaint read. “And now he must take medication for his heart to combat the severe anxiety and stress this situation has caused him, now going into its sixth year.”

In addition, the lawsuit also claims that Petetit caused damage to the property, punching and kicking several holes in the walls as part of “numerous drunken tirades” while he was living in the property, and performed unauthorized repair work using unlicensed contractors. The lawsuit said the damage caused by both Petetit and PB Companies included severe water damage that was “catastrophic” and would cost more than $100,000 to repair. 

Roy Ogden, who is representing all the defendants in the case, characterized the lawsuit as the result of a “family squabble,” and said that Petetit and Westbay were childhood friends. Noting the various claims in the suit, which also included references to Petetit’s arrest for domestic violence in November 2015, Ogden said the lawsuit was Westbay’s attempt to put pressure on his clients after the two parties failed to come to an agreement over the property outside the court system.

“It looks to me like Westbay wanted to file a complaint to put pressure on everyone he sued,” Ogden said. 

The lawsuit is just the latest knot in a string of legal troubles for Petetit both professionally and personally. In March, Petetit and another company he founded, DVR Development, was sued over the beleaguered development of a property in San Luis Obispo. Petetit is facing criminal charges stemming from the alleged domestic violence incident in November 2015. He was also sued in civil court by a former girlfriend, who alleged that he physically abused her multiple times over the course of their relationship. Those cases remain ongoing.

Petetit is no longer a partner with PB Companies. According to reports in the The Tribune, Petetit stepped down from the company in December 2015. Since his departure, it appears the name of the company has changed. The phone number listed for PB Companies now directs callers to an entity called “The Obispo Company.”

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