Minnesota Vikings Stadium Deal May Be Delayed Over Fraud Judgment

Jul 27, 2013; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) as he leaves the field at training camp at Blakeslee Fields. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

It’s common knowledge that the Minnesota Vikings have already made a deal with the state for stadium construction. What’s not common knowledge is that the Vikings owners have been embroiled in a fraud lawsuit for over 20 years. Superior Court Judge Deanne Wilson has already made a ruling in the case and will soon begin ordering the payment of damages, which are expected to be considerable.

“The Wilfs’ business partners claimed family members systematically cheated them out of their fair share of revenues from Rachel Gardens, a 764-unit apartment complex in Montville, by running what amounted to “organized-crime-type activities” in their bookkeeping practices that gave the Wilfs a disproportionate share of the income.

[Judge Deanne] Wilson found that Zygmunt Wilf, along with his brother, Mark, and their cousin, Leonard, committed fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty and also violated the state’s civil racketeering statute, or RICO.”

In a related story The NFL found out and doesn’t seem to be very concerned about the news. Mike Florio reported Wednesday the NFL will take no action against Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf. Presumably the Wilf’s breathed a sigh of relief when the NFL took a “snoozer”, but it appears someone else got their shorts in a wad over it Wednesday.

Here’s where the news gets interesting: Governor Mark Dayton told 5 Eyewitness News he is “deeply concerned” by both the 21-year-old civil suit filed against Wilf and his family and Superior Court Judge Deanne Wilson’s ruling. The Wilf’s have a new problem. The stadium deal was finalized and the final paperwork done, but neither the Stadium Authority nor the Minnesota governor hasn’t yet put their “John Hancock” on it just yet. Now it appears he won’t be signing the agreement anytime soon.

“I would urge the [Stadium Authority] to have its legal counsel assure them and the people of Minnesota that all the representations made by the team and its owners are truthful and accurate.”

It would also appear that a statement made by Vikings Vice President of Public Affairs Lester Bagley may have been made just a tad too hastily:

“This is a private business matter and involves a business dispute, but it will not impact the Vikings or the stadium project.”

The Washington Post suggested that the ruling “will not affect the team’s finances”, but the owners assets are the teams finances. With the plaintiffs seeking more than $50 million in damages and the Judge talking about triple damages Zygi Wilf could take quite a hit. To clarify the “delay issue” a bit the Stadium itself is still scheduled to to open in 2016, but if the governor gets his way the stadium deal itself and the state money will be delayed until all the details are carefully scrutinized.

Topics: 21-year-old Civil Suit, Civil Racketeering Statute, Fraud Judgment, Minnesota Vikings, Vikings Owners

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  • coolhand

    This is a wee bit irresponsible of you to report this story in such a manner. If you’ve been following the history of the stadium project you would know that Gov. Dayton is the single biggest proponent of it. He has the most to lose if the stadium isn’t completed. Saying that due diligence is needed and actually delaying the project are two wildly different things. I would expect more from the press, but not more from the “Saints” press, I guess.

  • Tommy Yarbrough

    @coolhand, I’m a Viking fan who lives FAR out of the state, but have been trying to stay abreast of the new stadium’s progress. I’m not sure about how Gov. Dayton feels about getting the stadium started, but I’ll take your word about his position. Even so, the “author” of this article says that Dayton nor the stadium authority have signed off on the beginning of stadium construction. I don’t think that any of us can truly say what is going to happen, (with stadium construction or the Wilf’s 20+ year old fraud case), the latter being a HUGE thorn in Ziggy’s and Mark’s side. It sounds like the Wilfs (and their attorneys) have to handle this fraud thing with kid gloves, and quickly come to a mutual agreement. All of that notwithstanding, IMHO, the Wilfs have plenty of money to settle the case…and,God be with them…and us fans, they do it sooner rather than later. It also sounds like(according to this article), that there MAY BE some ill will between Gov.Dayton and the Wilfs; for what possible reason, I do not know. If so, I sincerely hope that that problem remedies itself quickly, and without side effects.
    I guess what I’m trying to say with this helaciously long post, is that as a purple bleeding, die-hard, lifelong Viking fanatic, I am praying that all parties involved come to a satisfactory agreement SOONFilingse Vikingsc