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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mosque Developer Faces Eviction; Slumlord Imam Also In Court

The New York Daily News reports that the developer of the Park51 / Cordoba House mosque at Ground Zero is facing eviction.  

What does it say about the judgment of our elected officials -- from Mayor Mike Bloomberg to President Obama to outgoing Governor David Patterson -- that each has blessed this highly-inappropriate project (given its site, it should be off-limits to all faiths, just like any public place, in accordance with that other part of the First Amendment, the phrase about no establishment by the government of any religion) which is backed by an apparent deadbeat (the deadbeat being Sharif El-Gamal) and will be guided spiritually by an imam whose wife is alleged to be a New Jersey slumlord?

Were our elected officials incompetent regarding their due diligence on this cast of characters?

Were they negligent regarding that due diligence?

Or -- were these elected officials complicit -- for reasons known only to them (for now) -- knowing the less than sterling reputations of these characters?

There must be an awfully strong personal motive for these powerful elected officials to be backing (and using the full weight of their respective government offices to push, in violation of the First Amendment) this particular project, in this particular location.  Usually, such motives in any business deal -- and particularly ones where public officials are involved -- attract the attention of investigators and prosecutors in the Public Integrity Unit of the Department of Justice, as well as its local counterparts.

Sharif El-Gamal, the reported principal of the real estate firm Soho Properties, is facing eviction for $39,000 in unpaid rent for space at 552 Broadway (that's in the dingy, grimy part of Broadway north of Canal Street, not a high-rent area by any means), according to the report. In addition, the report states there was another lawsuit settled last year for back rent due of about $89,000.

Questions for observers: When evaluating the mosque developers' promises and representations as to plans for the mosque, isn't it prudent to use financial and litigation history as one way to assess their credibility, trustworthiness and reliability?

My opinion is that El-Gamal's history of being sued for nonpayment raises "red flags" in any business context. The same goes when assessing the litigation history of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan.

What are your thoughts?

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who specializes in investigating complex financial and legal matters and defending the innocent in government investigations.   He can be reached at 917-696-2442 or by e-mail at

1 comment:

  1. I'm staring at you right now...and I likes what I sees.