Zygi Wilf Likely To Lose Civil Suit Over New Jersey Real Estate Financials
It appears Vikings Owner ZYGI WILF will "wind up at the losing end" of one of New Jersey’s "longest-running civil lawsuits," according to Ben Horowitz of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. Wilf and his family own the New Jersey-based Garden Homes real estate company, and their business partners claimed family members "systematically cheated them out of their fair share of revenues" from Rachel Gardens, an apartment complex in Montville, N.J. Wilf Partners ADA REICHMANN and her brother, JOSEF HALPERN, claimed that the Wilfs were running what "amounted to 'organized-crime-type activities' in their bookkeeping practices that gave the Wilfs a disproportionate share of the income." Judge DEANNE WILSON on Monday found that Wilf, along with his brother, MARK, and their cousin, LEONARD, "committed fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty and also violated the state’s civil racketeering statute, or RICO." Wilson said that Reichmann and Halpern "are entitled to compensatory damages, punitive damages, triple damages under the RICO statute, a redistribution of revenues dating to 1992 and reimbursement for their attorneys’ fees." Wilson said, "The bad faith and evil motive were demonstrated in the testimony of Zygi Wilf himself." Wilson also announced that she will "dissolve the partnership, meaning the Wilfs may continue to run Rachel Gardens after their former partners are compensated." But Wilson "did not announce the specific amount of damages to be awarded." Wilson invited accountants for both sides to "submit their calculations." The plaintiffs in their closing arguments "sought a total" of $51M (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/6). Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development LESTER BAGLEY said that Wilson's ruling "will not affect the Vikings' plans to build a new stadium" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 8/6).
A DIFFERENT VIEW: In Minneapolis, Mike Kaszuba writes the case is "casting a new light" on Wilf. Bagley referred to it as a "private business matter," though the case at one point included allegations that the Wilfs diverted money from the project for "football related expenses" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/7). ESPN's Adam Schefter said, "It is a civil case, it is not a criminal case and therefore the league is not expected to take action against the Wilf family. However, it is a blight on their resume, it is damaging to their reputation that they've put together" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 8/6).