Real Estate Developer Faces New Fraud Allegations

Ned Abdul, whose offices were reportedly raided earlier this year due to fraud allegations, is now being sued by an investor who claims Abdul and a local real estate agent bilked him of at least $1.5 million.

Twin Cities real estate developer and nightclub owner Ned Abdul is facing new fraud accusations.

Brian Lawton of Edina, an investor in two of Abdul's real estate deals, recently filed a complaint in Hennepin County District Court against Abdul, as well as Patrick Smith, a real estate agent for Coldwell Banker Burnet.

Lawton accuses them of defrauding him of at least $1.5 million through two real estate “flipping schemes.”

Lawton also named Abdul's company, Minneapolis-based Swervo Development Corporation, and Edina-based Coldwell Banker Burnet as defendants in the suit.

The complaint involves two properties-River City Center in Hudson, Wisconsin, and the Noble International Technical Center in Warren, Michigan.

According to the complaint, Abdul bought the River City Center in 2004 for about $6.5 million from Minneapolis-based Avanti Investments, LP. “His objective was to control it just long enough to flip River City to a group of unwary investors,” the suit alleges.

Swervo at that time entered a lease agreement with Avanti that accounted for roughly half of the building's income-allegedly making it appear as though the property had a steady income and falsely inflating its value.

To help locate investors, Abdul and Swervo hired Coldwell Banker Burnet and Smith, offering a $150,000 commission if they could attract buyers. Swervo resold the property for $7.85 million, according to the complaint.

Through the scheme, Swervo and Abdul allegedly made a $1.35 million profit, while Lawton and other investors were left with “little or no chance of succeeding.” Lawton claims to have incurred damages of at least $489,000 through the sale.

Abdul bought the Warren, Michigan property in 2006 for about $63 million, according to the complaint. He then allegedly flipped that property-again with the help of Smith-for about $76 million. Lawton says his damages total more than $1 million from that scheme.

These recent fraud allegations are separate from an investigation that began earlier this year. In May, local media outlets reported that federal agents used search warrants to raid Abdul's Deephaven home, as well as Swervo's offices in Minneapolis. Agents from the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Office also reportedly searched Abdul's bank accounts and the residence of John Barlow, his partner in Karma, a downtown nightclub.

A search warrant affidavit alleged that Abdul ran multiple fraud schemes through which he took money from his nightclubs and submitted fake invoices to the tenants of his office buildings and the U.S. government, according to a report by the Star Tribune.

Abdul soon after denied the allegations in a letter sent to tenants, colleagues, and friends.