Vikings Owners Face $84.5M Fine in NJ Case

Updated: 09/24/2013 7:29 AM By: Jay Kolls

Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf
Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf

A New Jersey judge has ordered the Minnesota Vikings owners and their cousin to pay approximately $84 million in a fraud case.

Superior Court Judge Deanne Wilson made the ruling Monday in the civil fraud case against Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf - which dates back more than two decades, according to KSTP reporter Nick Winkler, who attended the court hearing.

The Wilfs were sued 21 years ago by their now former business partners. The ruling covers compensatory and punitive damages to plaintiffs Josef Halpern and Ada Reichmann.

In early August, a judge ruled that the Wilfs and their cousin, Leonard, committed fraud, breach of contract and fiduciary duty, and had violated New Jersey's civil racketeering law. The case centered on an apartment complex in New Jersey.
The business partners had asked for up to $51 million in the case.

The amount ordered for the Wilfs to pay does not include attorneys' fees. Attorneys for the Wilfs say they will appeal. Peter Harvey, an attorney for the Wilfs, says he believes the judge made mistakes that will not withstand an appeal.

The lawsuit led to a five-week investigation in Minnesota over concerns for the Vikings stadium deal. The due diligence report found the Wilfs have the money to pay for their portion of the new Vikings stadium, which is $477 million.

A Vikings' official tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the ruling against the Wilfs will not hurt the construction, or timeline, of the new Vikings' stadium. Lester Bagley says, "We are right on schedule to complete the stadium on time; we are in the final stages of negotiating contracts we've been working on for a long time, and the ruling will not interfere with any of that."

Bagley went on to say, "The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority reviewed the team's finances and did not find any problems, and there are no concerns that the Wilfs will not be able to meet their financial obligations to the taxpayers of Minnesota."

Also, the attorneys for the Wilfs tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they will appeal the judge's ruling immediately and that the first Vikings' game will be over "long before the appeals process is finished" in this case. The Wilf's attorneys are appealing because they found the judge's ruling to be over-reaching and unfair, and they are "confident the judgment of $84.5 million will be reversed on appeal."

Click here to read the judge's order.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.