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One builds sandwiches. The other wanted to build a new city. Now, there’s a $5 billion lawsuit on the table. Subway founder and president Fred DeLuca has been socked with a multibillion-dollar lawsuit for allegedly stealing his business partner’s dream to build the first eco-sustainable city in Florida. Developer and multimillionaire Anthony Pugliese III wanted to build a biotechnology hub larger than Disney World, with 150,000 people, lakes and a sustainable energy source. But he alleges that DeLuca edged him out of the deal after persuading Pugliese to let him handle financing for the $9 billion project. It was to be called “Destiny.” Moreover, the complaint, filed on Dec. 3 in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, alleged that DeLuca secretly secured low-interest financing for the deal, but charged Pugliese a higher rate and kept the difference. Pugliese has tapped prominent trial attorney Willie Gary of Stuart, Fla.-based Gary, Williams, Finney, Lewis, Watson and Sperando to argue his case. “Fred DeLuca stole our client’s dream. He became a partner in a multibillion-dollar business deal with our client and made empty promises,” Gary said in a statement. A Subway spokesman declined comment, stating, “This has nothing to do with the Subway business.” The company referred calls to the law firm of Proskauer Rose, which represents DeLuca. No one was available at the firm to comment on the case. According to the complaint, Pugliese conceived the idea of Destiny and brought on DeLuca as a partner because of his “strong financial ties and resources.” The two acquired roughly 41,000 acres of land along the Florida Turnpike on which Destiny was to be built. But, the suit claims, Pugliese eventually discovered that he was being defrauded by DeLuca. According to the complaint, DeLuca allegedly breached his fiduciary duties by earning a secret profit from the loan, not disclosing that fact to Pugliese, and “taking unfair advantage of Pugliese by manipulating the affairs of the Destiny Project with the intent of taking and eliminating Pugliese’s interest in the Destiny Project for his own benefit.” State and federal officials have approved construction of Destiny, although no buildings have yet been built.

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