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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
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Islamic Center Group May Have Been Swindled

WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge refused to dismiss claims of a fraud against the nonprofit that planned to build an Islamic community center near Ground Zero.

Robert Deak and his wife, Moshira Soliman, gained the trust of the president of Cordoba Initiative Corp. and tricked him into paying nearly twice the asking price for a condo they never delivered, according to the complaint.

Cordoba, a Malaysian nonprofit "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 says he became close friends with Deak and Soliman over the course of five years. According to the ruling, the couple even raised money for Cordoba.

Deak allegedly suggested to Rauf in 2010 that Cordoba should buy a condo located on K Street in Georgetown. Though Daek told Rauf that the unit was worth $1.35 million, he failed to say that he and his wife had bought the unit only a few months prior for $567,500, according to the complaint.

After Cordoba transferred $1.5 million to Deak's bank account, the organization says the couple failed to prepare a sales contract, failed to give it a property disclosure statement and never delivered the title to the unit.

U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts refused to dismiss the complaint, finding that Cordoba stated a claim and may show that he had a fiduciary relationship with the pair.

"Cordoba pled sufficient facts to state plausible claims of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation and construction fraud, and unjust enrichment," the 16-page decision states.

Roberts did dismiss the misrepresentation claim as duplicative of the count for negligent misrepresentation.

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