The Real Deal Miami

Harsh allegations levied against James Batmasian

Boca property owner accused by employees of fraud, harassment and discrimination
July 24, 2014 11:15AM

James Batmasian

Downtown Boca Raton’s largest private commercial real estate owner is facing allegations of discrimination, fraud and harassment in lawsuits filed by two of his former employees.

One of the pending lawsuits against James Batmasian describes the property owner and developer as someone with a “voracious sexual appetite for Latin women.” Leasing agent Karla Sotomayor filed a Palm Beach Circuit Court complaint last month against Batmasian, his wife Marta and Daron Tersakyan, whom Sotomayor describes as Batmasian’s “right-hand man.” Sotomayor, a native of Ecuador, also filed a discrimination claim with the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

Sotomayor accuses Batmasian of making romantic passes at her and ordering her to lease space to massage parlor tenants who could provide sexual favors for him and his friends, according to the Palm Beach Post. One of Batmasian’s tenants was arrested last month for allegedly running a house of prostitution out of the O’Asian Wellness and Spa on Glades Road.

The Batmasians responded to Sotomayor’s suit by suing former chief financial officer James Baker for allegedly stealing confidential company information and providing it to Sotomayor. Baker is suing Batmasian under the Florida Whistleblower Act.

Batmasian is also involved in messy litigation with his former contractor, Joseph Falso, who claims he is owed millions of dollars for work he did for the property owner. Those lawsuits date back to 2012.

In 2008, Batmasian served time in federal prison for not paying more than $253,000 in federal income taxes for employees and had his law license suspended. [Palm Beach Post]Eric Kalis