NEWARK (CN) – Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney is the lead defendant in a complaint accusing his business partners of making false claims about financing for the Rolling Stone Los Angeles restaurant, owned and operated by Roof Group LLC, of which Freeney is a member.
The plaintiffs – two people and their corporation – claim the defendants made “numerous false statements,” particularly about money, to induce them to manage the restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard, then fired them without cause and without severance pay.
Salvatore Feli, Stacy Feli and SalandStacy Corp. (S&S) sued Freeney, five other people, the Roof Group and Krost Baumgarten Kniss & Guerrero, accountants, in Essex County Court.
The Felis say they entered into a written agreement with the defendants in May 2010 to manage the development, construction and operation of the restaurant, and uprooted their family to Los Angeles to do so.
They claim the defendants told them, falsely, that they “would have full control over the management,” and that Freeney told them that “he had the financial resources to fund all capital requirements … because he had signed a $72 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, which included a signing bonus in the amount of $30 million, making him the highest paid defensive player in the history of the NFL.”
The Felis claim that defendants Aaron West, Eva Weinberg and David Millar aka Michael Millar told them that Millar, an alleged investor in the Roof Group, “was a multi-millionaire owning a private airplane and multiple private Caribbean island homes,” and that “Millar would personally ensure that Roof Group had adequate capital and that he would provide a $7 million line of credit to Roof Group to fund working capital and other needs of the business.”
But the Felis say: “The Roof defendants knew that Millar was not in fact a wealthy individual, did not own an airplane or island and was not an investor in Roof Group.
“Upon information and belief Millar was merely an individual with a personal relationship with Weinberg who cohabitated with Weinberg.
“Upon information and belief Millar’s sole function was to play the fictional role of a wealthy investor willing to fund the development of a national restaurant concept in order to induce third parties, including plaintiffs, to do business with the Roof Group.
“All of such statements were known by the Roof defendants to be false.”
The Felis say that Weinberg eventually flew to Indianapolis and persuaded the investors, including Freeney, to wrongfully terminate the management agreement by defaming them to Freeney and West, and blaming SalandStacy “for her [Weinberg’s] own mistakes, including failures to pay invoices on time as well as pay employees their proper wages.”
SalandStacy claims that Roof Group “offered only the nonsensical excuse that S&S did not agree to amend the agreement quickly enough” after Roof Group wanted to “drastically reduce” the compensation for the plaintiffs.
The Felis say Weinberg and the accounting firm quickly “assumed S&S’s duties and caused the S&S compensation to be paid to them” shortly after the deal was terminated.
The Felis seek damages for fraud, breach of contract and conversion.
They are represented by Craig Spierer with McCue, Sussmane & Zapfel of New York, N.Y.