Brad Zackson, a onetime consigliere of Fred Trump and business partner of scandal-plagued presidential pal Paul Manafort, is suing Kevin Maloney’s Property Markets Group, alleging its failure to develop the Clock Tower site in Long Island City cost him a share of agreed-upon profits.
Zackson claims he helped put together the deal for the property at 29-37 41st Avenue, which was slated for an 800-unit residential tower, and he expected to pocket a share of the profits from the development. But by failing to follow through on the development and instead selling the site to the Durst Organization for about $175 million, PMG caused him to lose out, he alleges.
He is seeking damages of $400 million, a figure that seems outsized, since the total projected sellout of the project, when it was slated for condominiums, was $364 million.
Maloney, who partnered with the Hakim Organization at the site, denied the allegations and pointed to Zackson’s track record.
“Zackson is a failed and disgruntled former broker who is living beyond his means and who did not invest any money in the deal,” PMG’s spokesperson said. “Zackson introduced our partner Hakim to the site at which time Hakim brought us into the deal.”
In 2008, Zackson and Manafort were involved with controversial Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, a reported close ally of Vladimir Putin with alleged ties to organized crime, in a plan to redevelop the Drake Hotel. In 2011, former Ukranian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko filed suit against a group of investors including Firtash, Zackson and Manafort, alleging that they were laundering money. The suit was dismissed in 2014 on the basis that the allegations involved conduct that was outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.
Zackson had no day-to-day involvement in the clock tower development after the Hakim Organization severed ties with him, sources said.
Zackson alleges that he turned the project over to Maloney because the PMG chief assured him he could bring the building to fruition, raise financing and lead construction. But Zackson alleges that Maloney concealed financial information, and said that Maloney “crippled his already weak financial status” by guaranteeing loans on his Steinway Tower project at 111 West 57th Street in Manhattan.
Zackson claims Maloney promised to procure a construction loan but couldn’t deliver. When Zackson and Hakim introduced him to Fisher Brothers as a potential partner on the deal, Maloney misrepresented the outstanding debt on the project causing Fisher Brothers to walk away, Zackson alleges.
Zackson started his career as a rental broker in Queens before being hired to manage Fred Trump’s Queens apartment portfolio.