Wellington real estate investor and businessman Glenn Straub claims he has loaned $150,000 to finance the defense of indicted Palm Beach developer Robert V. Matthews. But the two later clashed in a “business dispute,” and now Straub is suing to get the money back.
Straub’s company Palm Beach Polo Inc. filed a complaint against Matthews’ law firm, Wiggin & Dana LP, in the U.S. District Court for Florida’s Southern District. The Connecticut-based law firm has an office in Palm Beach.
Palm Beach Polo alleged in the complaint that an unspecified “business dispute” with Matthews in early July led the company to demand the return of $150,000 it wired to the law firm on May 29.
Straub, who is not named as a plaintiff in the complaint, is president of Palm Beach Polo, according to state records. Larry A. Zink, the attorney who filed the complaint, referred questions from the Palm Beach Daily News to the Wellington office of Straub, who was unavailable for comment.
Matthews is awaiting trial at a federal court in Connecticut on 21 counts of defrauding investors, evading tax and laundering money. His indictment stems from his role as developer of a bankrupt project to renovate the Palm House hotel-condominium at 160 Royal Palm Way in Palm Beach.
Matthews has pleaded not guilty to the charges in the indictment and to separate securities fraud charges in a civil suit filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Straub is a former owner of the Palm House and holds a $27.5 million mortgage on the property through one of his companies. The unpaid $27.5 million loan led to a foreclosure suit. The loan is now the largest secured debt in Palm House’s Chapter 11 corporate bankruptcy case.
Together with its complaint in federal court, Palm Beach Polo filed a loan agreement between Straub, as president of the company, and Matthews’ wife, Maria “Mia” Matthews.
The complaint alleged that, in early May, Mia Matthews asked about the possibility of borrowing money from Straub’s company to finance Robert Matthews’ defense.
The loan agreement between her and Straub’s company was dated May 28, one day before the company wired $150,000 to the Wiggin & Dana law firm. [Palm Beach Daily News] – Mike Seemuth