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Appellate Court reduces Wilfs’ financial obligation in decades-old real estate case

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In a civil real estate case that dates back to 1992, the New Jersey Appellate Court Friday significantly reduced the financial obligation of one of New Jersey’s leading real estate families.

A judge ruled the Wilf family, led by Zygmunt “Zygi” Wilf, a prominent builder and owner of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, must pay its former partners in a Montville apartment complex $32 million instead of the $103 million a lower court originally required it to pay.

Ada Reichmann of Toronto and her brother Josef Halpern, the Wilfs’ former business partners in the Rachel Gardens apartment complex, had claimed the Wilfs systematically cheated them out of revenue from the 764-unit building.

A court-ordered sale of the complex in 2014 netted $136 million at an auction. Proceeds were split among Reichmann, Halpern and the Wilf family.

A year prior to the auction, Superior Court Judge Deanne Wilson found in favor of Reichmann and Halpern, ruling that Zygi Wilf had violated the state’s civil racketeering statute, committed fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.

Three New Jersey Appellate judges substantially rejected those findings Friday.

“What we’re happy about is that the appellate division corrected a number of serious errors that the trial judges committed and most importantly, they cut this judgment down from $103 million to $32 million. We’re going to continue to address this matter and expect to reduce it further,” said the Wilfs’ attorney Peter Harvey, a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP in New York City and former New Jersey Attorney General who joined the case after Wilson’s ruling.

Calls to Lowenstein Sandler, the firm that represented the plaintiffs in the case, were not returned for comment at press time.

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Gabrielle Saulsbery

Gabrielle Saulsbery

Albany, N.Y. native Gabrielle Saulsbery is a staff writer for NJBIZ and the newest thing in New Jersey. You can contact her at gsaulsbery@njbiz.com.

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