United States District Court, E.D. New York
Decided November 26, 2013
For Janina Davis, Subhana Rahim, Plaintiffs: Andre Ramon Soleil, LEAD ATTORNEY, Soleil, Onua & Associates, LLP, Brooklyn, NY.
For Morad Yeroushalmi, Moussa Yeroushalmi, also known as Moishe Yeroushalmi, Farzaneh Yeroushalmi, Altria Development, LLC, M& M Developer, LLC, MBM Development, LLC, MBM Entertainment, LLC, PSY Trading, Inc., Defendants: Matin Emouna, Law Offices of Matin Emouna, Mineola, NY.
For James Guy, Defendant: James Owen Guy, Clifton Park, NY.
Nina Gershon, United States District Judge.
OPINION & ORDER
This action arises out of the competing claims of ownership to three pieces of real property located in New York City. The allegations set forth in the First Amended Complaint include assertions of assault, battery and deception, as well as extortion, bank fraud and sham conveyances. Plaintiffs contend that the allegations asserted against the defendants are sufficient to establish a civil claim for violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute, 18 U.S.C. § § 1961, et seq., and that this court should exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the litany of state law claims also asserted. Defendants
move to dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing that the allegations do not set forth a plausible RICO claim and that this court is therefore without subject matter jurisdiction.
Also consolidated for disposition herein is plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, bye which they seek to stay several proceedings commenced in state court.
For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion to dismiss is granted and plaintiffs' motion is denied as moot.
The following is a brief synopsis of the procedural history and claims, as culled from the First Amended Complaint (the " Complaint" ) and accompanying documents.
A. Factual Allegations
Plaintiffs Janina Davis (" Davis" ) and Subhana Rahim (" Rahim" ) are both female United States citizens residing in Brooklyn. Davis and defendant Aswad Ayinde, a.k.a Arune Destula, a.k.a. Eric McGill, also referred to as " Baku" (hereafter " Baku" ) are the parents of a minor child, Altria Ayinde, who is, thankfully, not involved in this action. ( See Compl. ¶ ¶ 4-5, 9, 13, 18-19.) The nature of the relationship between Rahim and Baku is not described in this Complaint, but it appears that, together, they were at one point the owners of the premises located at 187 Gates Avenue, in Brooklyn. ( See id . ¶ 31.)
Defendants Morad Yeroushalmi (" Morad" ) and Moussa Yeroushalmi, a.k.a. Moishe Yeroushalmi (" Moussa" ), are brothers. Defendant Farzaneh Yeroushalmi (" Farazaneh" ) is the wife of Moussa. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 20-21.) Also named as defendants are several limited liability companies, all operating out of 683 Middle Neck Road, in Great Neck, New York: M& M Developer, LLC (" M& M" ), the members of which are Morad and Moussa; MBM Development, LLC (" MBM-D" ), whose members are Davis and M& M, and Altria Development, LLC (" Altria" ), whose members are Davis, Moussa and Morad; MBM Entertainment, LLC (" MBM-E" ), owned and operated by Morad and Farzaneh; and PSY Trading, Inc. (" PSY" ), which is owned and operated by Baku. ( See id . ¶ ¶ 13-17, 22-26.)
The three pieces of real property that are at issue in this lawsuit are located at 187 Gates Avenue and 139 Clinton Avenue, both in Brooklyn (" Gates" and " Clinton,"
respectively), and 148 West 127th Street, in Manhattan (" W127" ), According to the Complaint, Rahim and Baku transferred title of Gates to Davis in October 2003; subsequently, in October 2004, Rahim brought an action in New York State Supreme Court (Kings County), alleging, inter alia, that Davis and Baku had " seized her property through larceny, conversion and extortion." (Compl. ¶ 33.) Plaintiffs allege that Rahim settled her claims against Davis, but that " Baku's use of violence as a tool to compel Rahim to sign over her property interests is a legal fact as a result of his finding of liability." ( Id. ¶ ¶ 33-34.) Plaintiffs further allege that the claims against Davis were settled due to a payment of $100,000 to Rahim from a group comprised of the defendants herein, which plaintiffs refer to as the " Yeroushalmi Clan." ( See id . ¶ ¶ 27-29, 34.) Plaintiffs allege that this payment to Rahim amounted to the initiation of the Yeroushalmi Clan's " plot to eventually take Gates from Davis without privilege, consent, or adequate consideration."  ( Id. ¶ 35.)
Plaintiffs also allege that, in April 2005, Davis, the owner of W127, entered into an agreement with M& M, which resulted in the formation of MBM-D and the transfer of title in W127 from Davis to MBM-D. The goal of this arrangement was the development of W127: M& M was to pay the costs of the " rehabilitation" and a fee of $150,000 to Davis, and Davis was to convey title to MBM-D, become a 50% partner with the entity, and ultimately share in the net profits made by the joint venture. ( Id. ¶ 39.) However, plaintiffs allege that defendants never intended to make such payment or to become Davis's partner, but rather, that the arrangement was merely a scheme to take the property without due consideration, ( Id. 40-42.) Plaintiffs make similar allegations with respect to Clinton: that Davis, Moussa and Morad entered into an agreement in April 2005 resulting in the formation of defendant Altria for the purpose of developing Clinton; that Moussa and Morad would pay the costs of development as well as $200,000 to Davis; that Davis would transfer title to the property, become a 50% partner and ultimately share in the profits of Altria; and that Moussa and Morad never intended to make such payment to Davis. ( Id. ¶ 47.)
According to the complaint, Davis " allegedly executed" deeds conveying both
Gates and W127 to MBM-D on May 6, 2005, and conveying Clinton to Altria on August 15, 2005. ( See id . ¶ ¶ 49-52.) However, Davis alleges that she has " no recollection" of signing the deeds conveying Gates and W127, and that she " did not intend or agree to divest herself of interest in Clinton," nor did she receive adequate consideration for the conveyance. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 49-50,52-53; copies of the deeds are annexed to the Complaint at Exhibits E (Gates), F (W127) and G (Clinton).) She did, however, receive $150,000 from defendants for her interest in Clinton. ( Id. ¶ 56.) Davis also maintains a residence at Clinton, in apartment number 1. ( Id. ¶ 55.)
In May 2006, title of W 127 was conveyed from MBM-D to MBM-E (an entity in which Davis did not have an interest); and in October 2006, from MBM-E to MBM-E and Baku as tenants in common. ( See Compl. ¶ 54(a), (c); Exs. H, J.) Also in October 2006, Baku conveyed his interest in W127 to PSY, resulting in a tenancy in common between PSY (1/3) and MBM-E (2/3). ( Id. ¶ 54(d); Ex. K.) Then, in March 2007, PSY and MBM-E transferred title to Morad and ...