Lexington Homes is suing its former attorney and a former senior vice president, claiming the two worked together to siphon real estate deals from the Chicago-based home builder.
A lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court claims Lawrence Freedman was working as Lexington’s real estate attorney at the same time he began acting as legal counsel for William Rotolo, who stands accused of stealing business from Lexington while serving as its senior vice president of acquisitions.
Rotolo is accused of advising Lexington on development deals he was secretly pursuing for himself — allegedly diverting 20 development opportunities from his employer to his own business interests. Lexington fired Rotolo, an employee with Lexington and its predecessor companies since the 1980s, in February and filed suit against him in March.
Now the residential developer is accusing Freedman of helping to incorporate Rotolo’s competing business interests and counseling those businesses while still acting as attorney for Lexington. Freedman also is accused of failing to disclose Rotolo’s actions to the company and is being sued for professional malpractice, according to the suit.
As Lexington’s vice president of acquisitions and entitlements, Rotolo was responsible for presenting and advising on potential real estate developments for the company. In 2017, Rotolo began convincing Lexington’s principals not to pursue certain projects, only to later pursue them for himself and his outside business partners, according to the suit against Rotolo.
Rotolo also failed to present Lexington with development deals and instead pursued them himself, according to the suit. One such development includes a South Loop printing plant, which eventually was bought Chicago-based CMK Companies for $14 million.
Freedman on Tuesday said he had no knowledge of the suit and therefore had no comment. Rotolo and Lexington Homes did not return requests for comment.
In one case, Lexington was considering a deal to redevelop a Warrenville movie theater into apartments, and even got as far as having Freedman draw up a purchase agreement for the property, according to the suit.
During the process, Rotolo advised Lexington not to pursue the deal, citing the difficulty of getting redevelopment permits. Then Rotolo and his company, Crescent I, in March 2017 entered into a contract to buy the property, the suit said. They used “what appears to be the identical purchase contract that Freedman had prepared for Lexington,” according to the suit.
The failed deal cost Lexington $1 million in lost revenue, the suit claims.
Rotolo’s scheme was discovered by Lexington after he left incriminating emails on an office copy machine, according to the suit against Rotolo.
Lexington Homes has built more than 40,000 homes in the area, having developed residential units in numerous suburbs and neighborhoods like Avondale and Bridgeport. In May, the developer delivered a 58-townhome community in downtown Des Plaines.