Top agent Chernov accused of squeezing partner out of deal

Stefanie Pollack alleges she was cut out of Studio City development

Stefanie Pollack and Dennis Chernov
Stefanie Pollack and Dennis Chernov (Getty, Chernov Team, LinkedIn)

Dennis Chernov, a top San Fernando Valley broker, squeezed a fellow broker out of a development site deal and pocketed the proceeds, a lawsuit the broker filed alleges.

Stefanie Pollack is asking for damages of $650,000 or higher from Chernov, alleging that she was cut out of the sale of two development sites in Studio City, according to an amended complaint Pollack filed Jan. 3 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The saga began in 2017, when Pollack met a Studio City property owner who was looking to sell to a developer who could build new homes on a rare double lot in the popular neighborhood.

Pollack, then at Keller Williams, believed that she needed a more established partner to make the most of her find, the complaint states. She pitched Chernov, who was also with Keller Williams at the time, on a partnership. Chernov had a reputation as a big dealmaker in the Valley: his team was 10th on TRD’s 2022 ranking of top Los Angeles brokers, with $428 million in sell-side deals.

Pollack claims she pitched Chernov on a 50/50 partnership in March 2017, which he agreed to, both verbally and over email.

In May 2018, Chernov found a buyer for the property, prominent Valley developer Brad Gerszt . Chernov and Pollack confirmed their partnership again through email, according to the complaint. Gerszt paid $2.4 million for the double lot through one of his development vehicles, Oxnard Beach Properties, LLC.

Formal partnership papers between Pollack and Chernov had not been drawn up, and Pollack alleges that Chernov never responded to her requests to do so. The Gerst-controlled LLC, Oxnard Beach, later transferred ownership of 12227 Valleyheart Dr. to a Chernov owned LLC through a quitclaim deed, the complaint states.

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Gerszt died in June 2020. In August of that year, Chernov allegedly entered into a separation and release agreement with Gerszt’s estate, without informing Pollack. According to the complaint, the agreement said that Chernov would receive $1 million upon the sale of the property, and the Gerszt estate would receive all proceeds north of that.

In September, Chernov contacted Pollack and said that the estate decided to sell the property at a loss. “There is no room for list side
commissions as I am taking a loss as well,” Chernov allegedly said.

The complaint alleges that Chernov lied. The LLC he controlled had sold the double lot for $2.75 million, a deal in which he represented both the buyer and the seller and made $1 million from the sale.

The buyer, according to the complaint, was Eran Gurion, who later subdivided the property into two parcels – 12227 Valleyheart Dr. and 12221 Valleyheart Dr. He then sold 12221 Valleyheart for $3.4 million, with Chernov representing him, and sold 12227 Valleyheart for $3.6 million, with Chernov representing both him and the buyer.

“In connection with the sale to Eran Gurion, Defendant Dennis Chernov cut plaintiff out of the partnership without her knowledge or consent,” the complaint states.

Pollack, who is now at Compass, sent a notice of dispute and a demand for mediation to Keller Williams, but her request was never responded to, according to the complaint.

Chernov’s lawyers declined to comment on the case. Chernov hopped over to The Agency in early 2022.

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