Gov. Mark Dayton says that as a plan to develop a new Minnesota Vikings stadium marches forward, he is "deeply concerned" about a recent court ruling against team's principal owner Zygi Wilf and his family.
A judge on Monday ruled that the Wilfs violated a civil racketeering law in an apartment development deal. Wilf business partners have alleged that Wilf cheated them out of their share of development profits, and they seek as much as $51 million.
The ruling was a closing chapter in an epic case, one of New Jersey’s longest-running and most expensive civil lawsuits, which featured allegations of "evil motives" by Wilf, the Star-Ledger reported.
Dayton is now urging the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority – the panel overseeing the new Vikings stadium project – to take special care in agreements with the Wilfs.
The stadium authority is working out the final details of a contract with the Wilfs before construction starts on the new $975 million stadium, to be built in place of the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, to open by the 2016 season, MPR notes.
The Vikings have agreed to pay about half the stadium costs; taxpayers will finance $348 million.
The Star Tribune reports that Dayton circulated a statement Thursday that said, "I am deeply concerned by the judge's findings that the Wilf family committed fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty; violated New Jersey's civil racketeering statute; and presented untruthful and inaccurate financial statements. Those practices are far from the legal standards for doing business in Minnesota."
Dayton noted that the findings in the case are completely unrelated to the stadium deal.
"However, since the Stadium Authority has not yet signed the final agreement, I would urge the Board to have its legal counsel assure them and the people of Minnesota that all of the representations made by the team and its owners are truthful and accurate," Dayton said.
The ruling was a "private business matter" and will have no affect on the Vikings or stadium development, Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley told the Associated Press.