Judge Calls Kadisha “a Common Thief” for Embezzling Funds for Personal Gain
LAWFUEL – Legal News Network – Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Henry W. Shatford on December 9, 2006 entered an $100,386,511 judgment in damages, including $5,000,000 in punitive damages, against Neil Kadisha, a principal of Omninet Capital Group in In re: Uzyel Irrevocable Trust No.1 and In re: Uzyel Irrevocable Trust No. 2.
The case arose from Kadisha’s actions while a trustee of funds earmarked for Dafna Uzyel, the widow of Kadisha’s friend, and her young children. The trusts, which gave Kadisha effective control over Uzyel’s assets, were established at the urging of Kadisha and his personal attorney who represented both Kadisha, as trustee, and Uzyel, as beneficiary – creating a conflict of interest.
The case was conducted over more than seven years, including four in trial. “This well-supported and articulate decision by Judge Shatford marks the culmination of a highly complex four year trial and resulted from a Herculean effort to uncover Kadisha’s perjury, backdating of documents and embezzlements as a trustee for personal gain, without regard to the welfare of the beneficiaries,” said Samuel Krane of Krane & Smith in Encino, the lead trial attorney, who, along with Linda Rottman of Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps represented, Dafna Uzyel and her two children, Izzet and Joelle.
The investigation into Kadisha’s wrongdoing required Krane & Smith to spend more than 12,000 hours analyzing the personal and business records of Kadisha, Qualcomm and the Trusts, pretrial discovery and trying the case. The trial included more than 20,000 pages of trial testimony and 3,000 exhibits. Kadisha invested an estimated $5 – 7 million on his legal defense.
Deceptions uncovered by Krane & Smith and presented at trial included back-dated trial documents and promissory notes, million dollar “loans” to nonexistent individuals, and intentionally misleading accountings of millions of dollars in embezzled funds, some of which was used to buy Qualcomm stock.
The Court noted that Kadisha took advantage of the widow’s lack of financial and legal sophistication, and her limited understanding of English, to compel her to sign documents against her interests, including alleged amendments absolving Kadisha of his responsibilities as a trustee, and giving him total control of Uzyel’s assets.
Judge Shatford found that Kadisha intentionally embezzled funds from two trusts for which he served as trustee; engaged in transactions prohibited by conflict-of-interest rules for his personal benefit; and repeatedly lied to hide his activities. “Kadisha was no more than a common thief,” said Judge Shatford in his decision. “[His] defenses rest beyond denials but upon a grossly contrived conception that a thief can steal money and keep the benefits.”
”The extent of his deception, and of his perjury before the Court, is staggering and particularly disturbing given his current and ongoing involvements in the business community and various charities,” said Rottman, who provided expertise regarding the breach of fiduciary duty issues in the case. While trustee, Kadisha also was a Qualcomm director and a member of its audit committee and currently serves as a director of various private companies and charities. In 2001, he was included on Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 wealthiest people in the United States.
In addition to its award of $100,386,511 in compensatory damages, $5 million in punitive damages, the Court has indicated it will award attorneys’ fees of approximately $12,000,000.
For a copy of today’s Statement of Decision or to arrange an interview please contact Samuel Krane of Krane & Smith at (818) 382-4000. To arrange an interview with Linda Rottman of Luce Forward, please contact Karen Korr at 619.231.9977 (office) or 619.944.0650.