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Vikings owner Zygi Wilf could be on hook for millions in fraud case

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

Zygi Wilf might have to pay millions of dollars. (AP)
Zygi Wilf might have to cough up millions of dollars to former business partners. (AP)

While Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is working through a scandal with his Pilot Flying J company that potentially could cost him the franchise he just bought, not much has been mentioned recently about the trouble in which Vikings owner Zygi Wilf finds himself.

As the Newark Star Ledger reports, Wilf could have to pay tens of millions of dollars to former business partners as it appears he likely will lose a two-decade old civil case. Already, New Jersey judge Deanne Wilson has ruled that Zygi Wilf, his brother Mark and their cousin Leonard committed fraud and breach of contract while violating the state's racketeering statute (also known as RICO).

The case has lasted 21 years and gone through four judges, and Wilson will rule in the next two weeks about the Wilfs' punishment. The plaintiffs had claimed that the Wilf family members didn't pay them their fair share of revenues from a large apartment complex which they all co-owned, and they alleged that the Wilfs' bookkeeping practice were similar to “organized-crime-type activities.”

Said Wilson: “There was a consistent, pervasive method of removing funds so they would not reach the partners.”

More from the paper:

The partners, Ada Reichmann of Toronto and her brother, Josef Halpern of Brooklyn, the longtime former on-site manager at [the apartment complex] Rachel Gardens, 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 said.

Wilf's “candid and credible” testimony detailed how he felt Reichmann got “too good a deal,” and he “reneged” on the arrangement initiated by his uncle, Harry Wilf, back in the 1980s, when construction began on Rachel Gardens, Wilson said.

The plaintiffs have asked for $51 million in compensation.

The Vikings told the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Tuesday that the judgment will have no effect on the organization or on the team's stadium-building plans.

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