A federal lawsuit alleges that Dornin Investment Group was involved in an extortion scheme which used eviction shakedowns to unlawfully obtain rent-regulated property from poor and working class tenants.
Online PR News – 15-September-2012 –Laguna-Beach based Dornin Investment Group has been named as a defendant in a civil suit under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
The complaint (CV12-05244 PA AGRx) filed in the United States District Court, Central District of California alleges that defendants Dornin Investment Group, Wilshire State Bank, Pearson Affiliated Inc., Keller Williams Commercial Realty, SAFCO Capital Group et al, engaged in the deliberate abuse of tenants, terrorizing tenants of a lender-foreclosed property to force them to move.
The suit alleges that Dornin Investment Group was involved in an extortion scheme which used eviction shakedowns to unlawfully obtain rent-regulated property, choosing to evict poor and working-class tenants to facilitate the sale of the foreclosed property.
Named in the lawsuit is Wilshire State Bank, Chris Dornin of Dornin Investment Group, realtor Yitzy Pearson of Pearson Affiliated, John Safi of SAFCO Capital Group, realtor Seth Polen of Keller Williams Realty, Roman Celusta of 709 South Mariposa Inc, Attorney Raymond Zakari of Zakari Law Inc. and Attorney Gary Walch of the Law Offices of Gary Walch.
The suit alleges that continuous intimidation, threats of eviction, threats of homelessness and financial injury were directed at the plaintiff and neighbors to induce them to move and that there were intentional efforts by the defendants to illegally take the property of tenants by theft.
The alleged scheme which involved 1) Wilshire State Bank, a leading FDIC-regulated banking institution and 2) Pearson Affiliated Inc., a full-service property management company and 3) SAFCO Capital Group, a real estate management firm and 4) Keller Williams Realty, a commercial real estate firm and 5) Dornin Investment Group, a commercial real estate investment firm and 6) Attorneys Raymond Zakari and Gary Walch has allegedly defrauded the plaintiff and neighbors of their residential dwellings.
The RICO suit alleges that each defendant was integral to the enterprise’s objective which was to rid the lender’s foreclosed property of rent-controlled tenants by any means necessary. The threat of eviction and the filing of meritless Unlawful Detainer actions against the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s former neighbors were used as forms of “extortionist litigation”.
The suit alleges that the defendants attempted to regain the plaintiff’s unit by the wrongful use of force, which in this case was harassment and a constant fear of eviction. A felon currently on parole, was hired by the defendants to harass and threaten tenants, the suit alleges.
According to the lawsuit, the proceeds from the defendants’ racketeering activities allowed them to re-market and re-sell a multi-million dollar property profitably and allowed the defendants to derive profits from their unlawful activities.
Also named in the lawsuit is Steven Paek, Community Manger for Dornin Investment Group and Scott Botsford, Director of Acquisitions and Assets Management for Dornin Investment Group.
Keys v. Wilshire State Bank et al.