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Judge "inclined" to postpone Wilfs' damage payments pending appeal

Posted by: Jim Spencer Updated: December 17, 2013 - 2:27 PM

MORRISTOWN, N.J. - Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf and their cousin Leonard likely will not have to immediately pay $84.5 million in damages and roughly $15 million in legal fees as they appeal a New Jersey state judge's rulings against them in a long-running lawsuit.

Judge Deanne Wilson said her "inclination" was not to demand immediate payment in a final order expected to be issued Thursday or Friday. But Wilson said she likely will require the Wilfs to post a bond worth at least what they owe in judgments, legal fees, interest and expenses because they defrauded partners in a big apartment complex in the New York City suburbs. Adding interest and expense payments to the $99 million in damages and legal fees, the bond amount appears likely to exceed $100 million.

In addition, Wilson told lawyers for the Wilfs and plaintiffs Josef Halpern and Ada Reichmann that her "inclination" is to dissolve the partnership the Wilfs, Halpern and Reichmann formed to buy and run the Rachel Gardens apartments in New Jersey. That would force the sale of the complex, which court records value at between $80 million and $100 million.

"There is a tremendous amount of hostility" between the Wilfs and Halpern and Reichmann, Wilson noted during a hearing Tuesday. "It springs from the conduct of Zygi Wilf."

Wilson has said the Wilfs defrauded and deceived their business partners. She called Zygi Wilf's testimony about wrongdoing "cavalier."

The lawsuit was originally filed against the Wilfs in 1992 by a company Reichmann owned.   

Wilson said that after all the acriomny it is "unlikely that these parties could ever work together again."

The Wilfs' legal team has objected to the apartment complex sale and plans to appeal the sale and many other findings and orders by Wilson.

The Wilf family's lead attorney, Sheppard Guryan, declined comment after Tuesday's hearing, as did lawyers for Halpern and Reichmann, who are brother and sister.

In her comments from the bench, Wilson did not address the relase of documents that list the Wilfs' personal wealth. The family has fought hard to keep the information secret, claiming that it could hurt their business negotiations and invite harm to their children.

Privately, they tried to prove to Minnesota officials that they have enough assets to pay for the lawsuit and still have enough to finance their share of a new billion-dollar Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

The decision of whether the personal wealth numbers should become public now rests with
Wilson. She originally said the numbers should be released, but agreed to keep them sealed while Wilfs' lawyers sought an emergency appeals court order to block their release.

The appeals court declined to issue the order. It kicked the matter back to Wilson, who will decide if she will include the Wilfs personal net worth in her final order in the case.

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St. Louis - WP: L. Lynn 4 FINAL
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