New Jersey judge says Wilfs must disclose wealth

It is my experience that the very wealthy aren’t big on this kind of transparency. Jim Spencer of the Strib says: “A New Jersey judge on Monday said Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf must disclose their personal wealth as part of a lawsuit in which they were found to have defrauded their partners in a real estate deal unrelated to the team. Superior Court Judge Deanne Wilson, who has yet to award damages in the case, said she will not unseal specific numbers until the Wilfs have a chance to appeal her decision. She gave them 20 days to do so. … Shep Guryan, an attorney for the Wilfs, sparred with Wilson in court on Monday, challenging the public’s right to know the Wilfs’ finances. He called the public’s interest in the Wilfs’ wealth ‘prurient,’ because the Wilfs already have demonstrated that they can pay whatever damages Wilson assesses.”

At MPR, Tim Nelson reminds his listeners: “It isn’t the first time the Wilfs’ wealth has come up in stadium talks. Zygi Wilf raised eyebrows in 2011 when he reportedly bought a home on the top floors of an Upper East Side building on Park Avenue for $19 million. But it’s also unclear how much of the Wilfs fortune a stadium deal might impact. An MPR News analysis of other NFL stadium deals indicates that naming rights and personal seat license revenue similar to other NFL teams, along with a League-subsidized loan, could pay for more than 99 percent of the money the Vikings have pledged as their part of the stadium financing.” A wise man once told me the secret to accumulating great wealth is: “Never use your own money.”

 Purely anecdotally … this chase isn’t playing well in Edina coffee shops. John Brewer and Andy Greder of the PiPress write: “One man is dead and another injured after a suspected drunken driver fled a traffic stop early Monday and crashed in Northeast Minneapolis. A Minnesota State Patrol trooper tried to stop Yia Her, 34, of St. Paul on suspicion of speeding and drunken driving about 1 a.m. in Minneapolis, according to the State Patrol. Yia Her initially stopped his 1997 Nissan Maxima but then drove off … His car broadsided a 2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue at Fourth Street Southeast and Central Avenue. Driver Brody Sotona, 20, of Spring Valley, Wis., was killed and passenger Connor Macklin, 24, of Stillwater was seriously injured. Yia Her was injured but not seriously, according to the State Patrol. Later Monday, Sotona’s family questioned the pursuit in a written statement. ‘The family would like to know why the Minnesota state trooper pursued the suspect into a high-speed chase in DOWNTOWN Minneapolis at 1 o’clock in the morning when it was quite clear that they already had the suspect’s license plate and likely the name and address,’ the family said. ‘If they would not have pushed him, our son and brother would still be alive today’.”

Paul Walsh’s Strib story says: “[A]ddressing the family’s criticism directly, Roeske said the patrol is ‘deeply saddened by the tragic and sudden loss’ of Sotona due to a suspected drunken driver. ‘The trooper was attempting to stop the driver as quickly as possible to prevent the kind of tragedy the driver ultimately caused,’ he said. Her’s driving record in Minnesota includes at least 17 violations since 2001, with 10 of those being for speeding. He’s also been cited for driving without a license. Roeske said Her’s license was suspended at the time of the crash.”

Coincidentally, Stribber Matt McKinney writes:The Minnesota State Patrol has completed its review of the fatal May 10 collision between a motorcycle and Minneapolis police vehicle, a police spokeswoman said Monday. … The collision at W. 26th Street and Blaisdell Avenue South killed motorcyclist Ivan Romero, 24, and injured his passenger and girlfriend, Joselin Torrejon-Villamil. The police sport-utility vehicle driven by officer Joshua Young was responding to the scene of a deadly police shooting in Uptown when it passed through a red light and into the intersection. Romero’s motorcycle struck the rear quarter panel of the SUV, according to police. … Police Chief Janeé Harteau said at a news conference held five days after the collision that the police vehicle was traveling 16 to 17 miles per hour at the time of the crash. The chief said an onboard video system that displays the vehicle’s speed while recording video from a forward-facing camera showed the exact speed.”

You may want to make that run up the North Shore … An AP story says: “The Department of Natural Resources predicts a brilliant fall color season for Minnesota. Despite dry weather lately, Patricia Arndt of the Division of Parks and Trails says trees got adequate rain earlier this season. She says the state just needs a combination of sunny days and cool nights in the weeks ahead to bring out the fall colors.”

Well, that was fast. John Schrade of the Strib says: “Minnesota Department of Human Services officials will allow sex offenders in the state’s high-security treatment program to marry one another while in treatment, a top DHS official said Monday. The announcement comes Monday in response to requests from three pairs of men in treatment at the state facility in Moose Lake who are seeking marriage licenses following the change in state law Aug. 1 that allows same sex couples to marry. ‘We don’t intend to interfere with their right to marry one another,’ said Deputy Commissioner Anne Barry, whose duties include overseeing the sex offender program.” And how about the honeymoon … ?

The fields are a little light on pheasants this year. The News Tribune up in Duluth says: “An extended winter season and cold, wet spring contributed to a significant drop in Minnesota’s pheasant count this year, the state Department of Natural Resources reported Monday. The annual August roadside count of Minnesota’s pheasant population showed a 29 percent decline this year compared to 2012. Last year the state had seen a rebound in pheasant numbers after a dismal 2011, when winter storms took a big toll.”

Another Orchestra commentary. This time from two women active with the Orchestrate Excellence group. They write in the Star Tribune: “As of today, Sept. 10, Minnesotans have just five days to salvage any semblance of their world-class Minnesota Orchestra and retain their world-renowned music director, Osmo Vänskä. Please join our citizens group, Orchestrate Excellence, in calling upon the Minnesota Orchestral Association Board; the orchestra’s musicians, and influential leaders like U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and Minnesota legislators to do all that is in their power to bring the Orchestral Association and the musicians together immediately to negotiate an interim agreement that will end the current crisis. This agreement should have two goals:
1) The musicians should resume playing by Sunday in order to be in shape for scheduled engagements.
2) The parties should establish a clear framework and timeline for ongoing conflict resolution and negotiations that will result in a durable, longer-term contract.”

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 09/10/2013 - 06:09 am.

    The Wilfs’ lawyer certainly has a way with words, but…

    …someone here should send him a note about what the word means before he goes any further tossing around these “prurient” references.

    Prurient: “marked by or arousing an immoderate or unwholesome interest or desire; especially : marked by, arousing, or appealing to sexual desire.”

    or, in Wiktionary’s somewhat more kinetic definition,

    “Uneasy with desire; itching; especially, having a lascivious anxiety or propensity; lustful.”

    Let’s be frank and admit that, yes, we are “itching” to know more about the Wilfs’ finances. But surely we Minnesotans can exert the self-control so lacking in “lascivious anxiety or propensity” !!

    The Wilfs complained that the release would include “information that can be used against us.”.


    • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 09/10/2013 - 08:42 am.

      Just who has the prurient interest?

      Seems to me that the Wilf’s are the ones with a prurient interest in money. Seems like the story of the former business partner and the betrayal of their relationship because of jealousy over the pot of gold would make a pretty steamy play if you just substituted the seductive vamp for the pot of gold.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 09/10/2013 - 07:27 am.

    Judge Deanne Wilson

    is way out of line. There is no public right to know the plaintiff’s net worth. It’s like if you write a huge check to a merchant and they call the bank to see if it’s good. The bank will just tell the merchant whether there’s enough in your account to cover it. They won’t tell the merchant what your bank balance is.

    This judge has wealth envy issues.

    • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 09/11/2013 - 12:25 am.

      Jumping to Conclusions

      I agree that there is no public right to know the plaintiff’s net worth. Perhaps you have some inside knowledge of the judge that leads you to attribute this to “wealth envy”.

      Personally, if I had to guess, I would think that the judge is pissed about being lied to and wants to make them jump through hoops to have her decision overturned. Which is probably why she delayed her order to release the data for (I think) 20 days.

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 09/10/2013 - 07:28 am.


    I meant defendant, not plaintiff.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/10/2013 - 08:16 am.

    when common sense takes leave…

    How can the Wilf’s claim to have demonstrated their wealth and at the same time refuse to disclose it? How can you know they have the money when they refuse to show you how much money they have? And regardless of the new income that might be generated by the stadium, someone has to finance it to begin with, the stadium revenues only become available after the stadium’s been built. THAT brings us back to the Wilf’s actual finance’s. One obvious reason for not disclosing real financial records it that is might sabotage their ability to get financing. Everyone seems to have forgotten, the issue here isn’t how much money the Wilf’s actually have, it’s how much money can get someone to loan them, it’s not about how money they have because they’re not putting their own money into it.

    What’s weird about this Three Card Monty game is the fact that so many people from stadium commissions to news papers are actually deliberately gullible. They ask only the questions that will produce the answers they want to hear.

  5. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 09/10/2013 - 11:43 am.

    MPR Analysis

    I don’t think much of the MPR analysis, at least at first glance. The numbers are heavily skewed by four teams: Dallas, SF, and 2 in NY. Take those out and the seat license revenue is closer to $100M (adjusted for inflation). And the naming rights revenue is somewhat skewed as well. Further, looking at present value for naming rights is viable if there’s a way to immediately monetize that revenue stream (there probably is, but at a cost).

    The real issue is whether there is any reasonable scenario (even if improbable) where the Wilfs/Vikings could declare bankruptcy, abrogate the Vikings lease, and the team be sold without the obligation to stay in Minnesota.

    As to the discussion of the Wilfs’ wealth, that’s only a factor in terms of ability to meet their obligations. It was never really about what they could pay for the stadium, only about their getting the best deal they could. They were better negotiators and had an inherently better position from which to negotiate. They got the better deal.

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