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Continued: Wilfs ordered to pay $84.5M in New Jersey real estate fraud case

  • Article by: COREY MITCHELL , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 24, 2013 - 7:02 AM

Rep. Bob Barrett, R-Lindstrom, a longtime critic of the stadium financing deal, referred to those fees Monday as he reacted to the ruling from New Jersey. He said that the Wilfs stand to generate so much revenue off seat license fees, stadium naming rights and other sponsorships that “it is highly likely that” the Wilfs “will actually make a profit” off the stadium’s construction.

Barrett said the “enduring legacy” of the project “cannot be” that Minnesotans paid for a stadium so that the Wilfs “could use proceeds from their ‘contribution’ to pay off a $84 million judgment in the state of New Jersey.”

Meanwhile, Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley said Monday that negotiations on lease and development agreements are “going very well” and that the team and authority are “working hard to keep the ­project on track.”

Also on Monday, the state of Minnesota moved forward with plans to issue the bonds that will be used to cover the $498 million public share of the project.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has assured the authority that the team will honor its commitment to building the stadium and playing in Minnesota, regardless of the outcome of the Wilf case, which has also led to high drama in New ­Jersey.

Net worth is next

Halpern and Reichmann sought upward of $50 million from the Wilfs, who they said used fraudulent bookkeeping practices to cheat them out of their share of revenues from Rachel Gardens, a 764-unit apartment complex in New Jersey.

Reichmann filed the initial suit in 1992 after the Wilfs removed her as a partner, arguing that she was no longer contributing to the development’s cost. Halpern joined the suit in 2009.

Wilson ruled last month that Reichmann and Halpern were entitled to receive a 25 percent share of revenues from Rachel Gardens. Reichmann never received her share and Halpern didn’t receive his 25 percent share after 1990.

Zygi Wilf must pay 60 percent, roughly $21 million, of the punitive damages while Mark and Leonard Wilf are responsible for 20 percent each, about $7.3 million each, the judge ruled. She did not determine how the compensatory damage payments will be divvied up.

“They’ve been punished sufficiently and fairly by the judge,” Lebensfeld said.

As part of the lawsuit, Wilson also ruled that Zygi and Mark Wilf must disclose their personal wealth. She will not unseal the numbers until the Wilfs have a chance to appeal her decision, which they plan to do.

In court papers filed this month, Zygi Wilf said that making his net worth public could pose a threat to his family and negatively affect his business dealings. The Vikings owners have a stake in 460 businesses spread over 37 states.

 

Staff Writer Richard Meryhew contributed to this report.

 

Corey Mitchell is a correspondent in the Star Tribune Washington Bureau. Twitter: @C_C_Mitchell

 

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