MANHATTAN (CN) - A sheikh hijacked the property and bank account of a Midtown Manhattan mosque that refused to give him a raise, a nonprofit claims in court.
The Islamic Society of Mid-Manhattan says one of its employees informed Sheikh Ahmed Devidar in July that he and the rest of the staff would not receive a raise because of declining revenue.
Though the staffers would still allegedly get their annual post-Ramadaan bonus, the sheikh allegedly told the board member, Shaheen Rehman, "that he had the devil in his heart."
Devidar then led a scheme to seize control of all of the organization's assets and give himself and other mosque staffers 50 percent raises, according to the complaint in New York County Supreme COurt.
The society says Devidar, who had been hired as the mosque's imam, created an unauthorized sham board to seize control of its assets.
"Sheikh Ahmed abused his position as the spiritual leader of the ISMM to scare, intimidate and coerce individuals into agreeing with his positions and creating a fictitious 'board' to obtain the results that the Mosque Staff desired," according to the complaint.
Rehman, who was present at the sham meeting, informed Devidar that its decision would not stand and that his board had no authority.
Devidar allegedly went the Bank of America to try and change the signatory on the society's account, but the bank turned him away and notified Rehman.
Bank of America supposedly flagged the account was flagged for protection, but Devidar succeeded a second time in transferred $280,000 from the account into his control, according to the complaint.
"Bank of America would answer no inquiries as to why such funds were transferred without authority," the complaint states.
Members of the society's board say they were supposed to meet with Devidar at the mosque on Sept. 10, but Devidar did not show.
Instead the board members "were forced to leave under threats that they were trespassing and that the police would be called," according to the complaint.
The society says its mosque is worth between $6 million and $8 million, and that the rogue staffers plan "to build an additional floor on the building, purportedly as living quarters" for themselves.
Rehman joined the society's lawsuit as a plaintiff along with Fathi Hassan and Nasir Farooqi, seeking declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief.
They are represented by Umar Sheikh of Loanzon Sheikh.
Ahmed Devidar is named as a defendant along with his brother, Mohamed Devidar, a sheikh whom the mosque allegedly hired as a backup imam; Abdul Haq aka Jeffrey Glazer, who worked as an administrative assistant for the imams; and Bank of America.