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‘A Suitcase Full of $500,000 in Cash’

DALLAS (CN) - Accused real estate fraudster Werner Eric Brauss fled to Brazil with the help of two brothers who bought his Dallas mansion on the cheap with a suitcase stuffed with $500,000 in cash, a German investor claims in court.

Triple M GmbH sued Daniel Kondos, of Addison, and George Kondos, of Plano, in Dallas County Court.

"The Kondos brothers are close personal friends of Werner Eric Brauss, a disgraced real estate fraudster and international fugitive who conned Triple M out of millions of dollars," the lawsuit states.

"Brauss fled the country to avoid criminal prosecution and a flood of civil lawsuits brought by defrauded investors in his real estate scams. To help his flight, he turned to his friends the Kondoses.

"Knowing Brauss needed cash to fund his escape, the Kondoses bought Brauss' house and millions of dollars worth of personal property for far less than reasonably equivalent value, and with intent to delay, hinder and defraud Brauss' creditors.

"Among other things, Dan Kondos bought Brauss' house located at 5545 Celestial Drive and all of its furnishings, and paid for it by giving Brauss a suitcase full of $500,000 in cash. The house is actually worth almost $4 million."

Triple M claims the Kondoses bought other items at "fire sale" prices, including Brauss' luxury cars, art and jewelry, "all of which were paid for in cash and with no paper trail."

"In addition, the Kondoses have stored items of personal property currently or formerly belonging to Brauss at a Dallas-area warehouse in order to hide those assets from judgment creditors like Triple M," the complaint states.

Federal prosecutors in Plano charged Brauss in February 2010 with a 10-count indictment in an $8 million real estate fraud. In announcing that indictment, the U.S. Attorney's Office said that "Brauss used most of the investment capital raised for expenditures unrelated to the two projects. Brauss faces up to 20 years in federal prison on each of the 10 counts."

In its new lawsuit, Triple M claims that Brauss has remained in close contact with the Kondoses, and that George Kondos' wife, an attorney, "even helped Brauss divorce his American so that he could remarry a Brazilian, and thereby make extradition to the United States more difficult. Also on information and belief, the Kondoses assisted Brauss in sneaking back into the country to finalize the divorce, knowing full well that he was a fugitive from justice."

Brauss has married the Brazilian, Triple M says in the complaint.

It continues: "The circumstances surrounding the Kondoses' dealings with Brauss make clear that they knew exactly what they were doing, namely helping their criminal friend escape justice and protect his assets from creditors."

George Kondos' wife is not a party to the lawsuit.

The Kondoses could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Triple M seeks an injunction and damages for fraudulent transfer.

It is represented by Todd Harlow with Cowles Thompson in Dallas.

Follow @davejourno
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