Islamic Center Group Can Preserve Condo Liens

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge refused to quash condominium liens against a couple accused of swindling the nonprofit that planned to build an Islamic community center near Ground Zero.
     Cordoba Initiative Corp. said in a 2011 complaint that its president was conned into trusting Robert Deak and his wife, Moshira Soliman, and ultimately paid nearly twice the asking price for a condo they never delivered.
     Cordoba filed notices of lis pendens against both the condo it bought from the couple and the condo that Deak and Soliman bought in the same building using the money they allegedly bilked from the nonprofit.
     The Malaysian-based nonprofit, which said it is “dedicated to improving relations among people of all cultures and faiths,” sparked controversy in 2010 with its plans to build an Islamic community center two blocks away from the footprint of the World Trade Center in Manhattan.
     Cordoba president and principal Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said he became close friends with Deak and Soliman over the course of five years, and the couple even raised money for Cordoba.
     Deak allegedly suggested to Rauf in 2010 that Cordoba buy a condo located on K Street in Georgetown. Though Deak told Rauf that the unit was worth $1.35 million, Cordoba said Deak failed to say that he and his wife had bought the unit only a few months prior for $567,500.
     After Cordoba transferred $1.5 million to Deak’s bank account, Deak and Soliman failed to prepare a sales contract, failed to produce a property-disclosure statement and never delivered the title to the unit, according to the complaint.
     U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts refused to dismiss the complaint last year, finding that Cordoba stated a claim, and can show that Rauf had a fiduciary relationship with the pair.
     Deak and Soliman meanwhile filed for an emergency order to quash the Cordoba’s liens so they can close on the second condo.
     Judge Roberts again ruled for Cordoba last week, preventing them from closing on the second unit.
     “The defendants fail to show that they are entitled to an order cancelling the notices,” he wrote. “Their claim of irreparable harm is supported by no more than speculation that they might lose their buyer on Unit 201 and might lose their line of credit on Unit 303. They do not demonstrate certainty of harm, impossibility of extending deadlines, irretrievable loss of title, preclusion from reapplying for new lines of credit, or other evidence of irreparability. The defendants make an anemic showing of the likelihood of success of the merits.”
     The couple also failed to have the judge impose against Cordoba for filing the notices.

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