Judge denies Shekhter’s motion to dismiss racketeering suit

Neil Shekhter

A judge has denied embattled developer Neil Shekhter’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit claiming he violated federal racketeering laws.

Shekhter was hit with the 102-page racketeering complaint by his company NMS Properties’ former financial partner AEW Capital Management in January. The accusations relate to a longstanding legal dispute between AEW and NMS over a joint-venture agreement on a nine-building Los Angeles multifamily portfolio.

The ruling means Shekhter is likely headed to trial next year over the allegations, according to a spokesperson for AEW’s attorney, James Fogelman of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

AEW claims Shekhter purposefully misled the courts amid the dispute and even lied to banks, third-party vendors, insurance companies and “countless others,” acting as a “criminal enterprise.” A judge already ruled that Shekhter forged documents and destroyed evidence in a separate October decision.

The whole legal saga began in 2014, when NMS accused AEW of reneging on terms allowing NMS to buy out AEW’s stake in the joint venture. AEW then countersued, alleging that Shekhter forged documents and violated the terms of their agreement.

AEW sold the properties for $430.5 million to Verbena Road Holdings, a subsidiary of San Francisco firm SPI Holdings, last year, a sale Shekhter claims was illegal since AEW should not have had control of the properties. An appeal is currently pending over the nine buildings, after a February appellate court ruling suspended AEW’s sole control of the portfolio.

The racketeering case will likely proceed when this appeal is resolved, according to Fogelman’s spokesperson.

Shekhter’s attorney, Louis “Skip” Miller, of Miller Barondess, could not be immediately reached for comment.