Prominent real estate investor Stanley Black has filed yet another lawsuit against his business partner of 34 years, this time claiming that Robert Barth stole nearly $2 million from their joint account.
Black, the founder of Black Equities Group, filed an explosive lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court last month that claimed Barth swindled him out of $8.1 million on a Beverly Hills home sale.
Black has also filed a second potentially damning lawsuit against Barth, per state court records, with further charges of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. The litigation alleges that Barth dramatically turned on Black after the pair spent decades making millions of dollars together on property sales and management.
According to the complaint, Barth and Black were friends and business partners – Barth was chief executive at Black Equities, one of the country’s biggest real estate investors – when they decided to form property management company Brighton Properties in 1994. The company, doing business as SB Management Corporation, grew to manage over 200 properties nationwide, owned by 160 different clients, and company shares were owned equally by Black and Barth.
However, Black claims that in October 2019 he discovered that Barth withdrew $1.8 million from the partnership’s joint line of credit in 2014 and diverted the money to a girlfriend (who is now his wife). Barth later put $800,000 back into the joint account, the lawsuit states, meaning $1 million is still missing.
Also, Barth allegedly diverted $5.6 million in fees that Brighton Properties collected from clients to an entity, Eastwind Financial, wholly owned by Barth.
Besides his wish to be repaid for the alleged lost funds, Black is seeking punitive damages arguing that his business partner behaved with “fraud, malice, and oppression.” Black also wants a judge to appoint a receivership for Brighton to manage its assets and take custody and control of its books and records.
Black declined comment through his lawyer, Howard King, of King, Holmes & Paterno.
Attempts to reach Barth were unsuccessful. In a call last week to Brighton Properties, a company representative noted that the business is private and would not comment.
Barth also has not responded to the lawsuits, or hired a lawyer to defend himself against the charges, according to the Los Angeles County Superior Court docket.
Besides his work with Black, Barth was co-founder of California Republic Bank, which Mechanics Bank purchased in 2016 for $330 million. He is also listed as director of financial institutions at San Diego holding company Brutten Global, another real estate investor.