Here's a quick reminder that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam isn't the only NFL owner to have had his name linked with some shady business dealings. Vikings owner and real estate mogul Zygi Wilf is now on the hook for what could end up being tens of millions of dollars after losing a civil suit to former business partners who claim that Wilf spent years systematically cheating them out of millions of dollars.
Wilf's case has been gumming up the New Jersey courts for the past 20(!) years, but as the Star-Ledger reports, the judge has finally ruled against Wilf and is ready to begin ordering the payment of damages. The Ledger explains the details of the case:
The Wilfs’ business partners claimed family members systematically cheated them out of their fair share of revenues from Rachel Gardens, a 764-unit apartment complex in Montville, by 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 found that Zygmunt 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.
The ruling states that the Wilfs spent years cooking the books in order to deny their partners their rightful share of the business. “I do not believe I have seen one single financial statement that is true and accurate,” said Judge Wilson. More from the Ledger:
Wilson said the Wilfs violated the partnership agreement through such repeated practices as taking out “grossly disproportionate management fees,” charging “unreasonable interest” and inflated advertising costs to the partnership, and using Rachel Gardens revenues to pay staff members who worked elsewhere.
“There was a consistent, pervasive method of removing funds so they would not reach the partners,” Wilson said.
The plaintiffs in the case sought a total of $51 million in damages. How much of that they will end up getting isn't yet known, but it looks like Wilf is going to end up taking a big financial hit. Don't worry, though, the Vikings' billion-dollar, publicly funded stadium is still scheduled to open in 2016.