Alan Jemal has accused his brother Steven Jemal of having “unclean hands” in a lengthy affidavit that sheds new light on the legal battle between the siblings.
The brothers have filed dueling lawsuits accusing each other of stealing from their family real estate business, which includes their mother, Ruth, and owns about 100 buildings throughout New York City.
Alan has claimed that Steven stole more than $650,000 from several of their management companies, while Steven has claimed that Alan and their mother took more than $500,000 from company bank accounts in April alone.
Ruth Jemal is a defendant in Steven’s lawsuit and a plaintiff in Alan’s. The three are equal partners in the mini empire that the low-profile family has built. They are not related to the Jemal family that founded Nobody Beats the Wiz, a now-defunct electronics store chain, although they hail from the same Syrian enclave in Gravesend.
Steven’s lawsuit delved deep into the family history, asserting that he was the one who built up their business in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, and that Alan contributed little. In his affidavit, Alan describes such allegations as “personal,” “unrelated” and “intended to smear me,” and takes time to refute many of them.
Alan says he spearheaded a buying spree for the family business in 1984, while Steven was going through “a messy divorce” and unable to get credit. He helped Steven get a rent-stabilized apartment, and Steven took a roughly two-year sabbatical from the firm while Alan worked on leasing and development deals, according to his affidavit.
Steven took another two-year sabbatical in the 1990s to rebuild a home and did not spend much time in the office, and although his lawsuit says he ran the business until an illness sidelined him in 2002, Alan’s affidavit says that “he never advised anyone of his ‘illness.’”
He continued to work for just a few hours a week after 2002 but could still look at any documents he wanted to and was kept informed of everything the family did, according to Alan’s affidavit. It describes his assertion that the family is punishing him for his document requests as “false and ridiculous.”
“Steven knew as much as I did and as much as he wanted to know,” Alan’s affidavit says. “Steven did whatever he chose to do, and I did everything with Steve’s full knowledge and awareness.”
Alan’s affidavit also adds to his initial claim that Steven has been taking money from the family business, accusing him of trying to withdraw $90,000 from two bank accounts in early May.
And it confirms that the directors of their family business JEM Realty Management passed resolutions to remove Steven as a director of the company at their May 1 meeting, a decision Steven said in his initial lawsuit that he had still not received any information about. Alan’s affidavit says that Steven could have attended the meeting but did not.
The dueling cases between the brothers are working their way through the courts. A judge just ruled Wednesday that Steven must deposit about $3.7 million into an attorney escrow account by June 2, where it shall remain until the court takes further action.
Alan’s attorney, Michael Devorkin of Golenbock, Eiseman, Assor, Bell and Peskoe, declined to comment on the affidavit. Steven’s attorney, Gil Feder of Loeb & Loeb, said he remains “very confident that the court will provide our client with all of the relief he seeks” and that Steven denies the allegations in Alan’s affidavit.
Write to Eddie Small at [email protected]