(John Disney/Daily Report)
Miami developer Mordechai Boaziz said he took two wannabe investors under his wing and showed them how the real estate business could make them millions of dollars.
Boaziz said he was repaid by being cheated by both men.
Senior Miami-Dade Judge Herbert Stettin this month awarded more than $21.5 million to Boaziz against one of those partners—David Houri—in a long-running lawsuit centered on real estate projects in Florida and Nevada.
Boaziz also sued former partner Yizhak Toledano, but those claims were settled before trial. Terms were not disclosed.
In all, the judge awarded Boaziz $14.9 million for the Residence at Canyon Lakes, a 504-unit condominium conversion in Las Vegas; $5.7 million for another condo conversion called the Villaggio on the Lakes in Port Orange; and about $900,000 for land in Hallandale Beach slated for development.
“Mr. Boaziz is gratified that after five years of very extensive litigation, the truth came out,” said his attorney, Michael Moskowitz, who tried the case with co-counsel Scott Zaslav of Moskowitz, Mandell, Salim & Simowitz in Fort Lauderdale. “He and his partners, Mr. Toledano and Mr. Houri, were very close friends. Mr. Boaziz took in these two fledgling investors, helped teach them the real estate business, and this is how Mr. Houri repaid him.”
Attorney William Cornwell of Weiss, Handler & Cornwell in Boca Raton, who represented Houri, did not return a phone call for comment by deadline.
Houri asserted various counterclaims, but Stettin rejected them.
Boaziz said he relied on assurances from Houri regarding his interests in the deals in 2004-2006 as he both of his parent became ill and died. Stettin, though, found that Boaziz’s failure to review documents did not get Houri off the hook.
“A partner who misrepresents material facts to gain an unfair advantage over his joint venture partner is not entitled to defend upon the ground that his partner could have done more to avoid being cheated,” Stettin said.
The judge found Boaziz was defrauded in a number of ways.
His partners pocketed nearly $25.5 million in sales from the Las Vegas project and disguised the proceeds as “assignment fees,” Stettin found.
He also said Houri bought out Boaziz’s interest in the Hallandale Beach property without disclosing he was in talks to sell the parcel for $6 million.
The court also found the Port Orange condo conversion made millions of dollars in profits, but Boaziz received less than $500,000 from his partners.
“Though there were millions in profits, the court wrote that, ‘Houri disclosed none of this to Boaziz,’ ” Moskowitz said.
Boaziz, president and CEO of the Maverick Investments Real Estate Corp., sued his partners in 2008 alleging fraud, conspiracy to defraud, breach of fiduciary duty and fraudulent transfer.