$1.1 Million Verdict|Against L.A. Landlords

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A jury Wednesday delivered a $1.1 million verdict against a Los Angeles landlord accused of failing to repay a $500,000 investment in four slum apartment buildings.
     Almost two years ago, Gabriel Barazani sued Franco Haiem and his wife and brother, Orit and Farzad Haiem, claiming he lost his life savings investing $535,000 in their business, Mayan Ganem Investment.
     Jurors heard that the Haiems persuaded Barazani to invest in four properties owned by L.A. slumlord Frank McHugh, who was sentenced to four years probation in 2010 after one of his apartment buildings collapsed.
     Barazani claimed he was promised but never received a 50 percent stake in the business, plus 4 percent annual returns.
     Orit Haiem, his first cousin, persuaded him to invest in the properties, Barazani said.
     Barazani’s attorney Martin Horwitz said the jury found the Haiems liable for fraud, concealment, breach of fiduciary duty, intentional misrepresentation and breach of oral and written contract.
     The jury on Tuesday awarded $854,832 to Barazani after three days of deliberations, and another $250,000 in punitive damages Wednesday.
     The Haiems countersued in March, claiming Barazani broke a promise to pay for maintenance of the properties.
     The $1.6 million counterclaim for breach of contract and fraud alleged that Barazani made the deal with the Haiems to launder money “going to and from Israel” and to duck taxes. Barazani is a citizen of Israel.
     The money laundering allegation was struck from the case, Horwitz told Courthouse News in May.
     In April, Franco Haiem reached a $2 million settlement with 100 tenants of an apartment building on Maple Avenue, after four days of a jury trial .
     The tenants of the South L.A. property claimed that under Haiem’s ownership they lived in deplorable conditions, with a severe cockroach and mice infestation.
     Two other tenant lawsuits are pending against Mayan Ganem Investment, over management of apartment buildings on West 10th Place and West 12th Place.
     Superior Court Judge Rita Miller presided over the trial which began in May.
     The Haiems’ attorney Brian Urtnowski did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

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