Baseball legend Alex Rodriguez could lose a huge chunk of his $350million fortune after a judge ruled against him in a bitter ongoing civil law suit by his ex-wife’s brother, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal.
A-Rod is being sued for $50million by Constantine Scurtis who alleges the slugger fraudulently cut him out of the real estate empire they built together.
And in the latest move, a Miami judge has agreed that punitive damages can be added to the complaint – opening up the possibility of the former New York Yankees hero handing over far more if he loses the case.
Judge Maria de Jesus Santovenia said Scurtis had provided a ‘reasonable showing’ of evidence to support including the claim in the six-year legal battle.
The blow to A-Rod, 45, comes after he and fiancée Jennifer Lopez, 50, are reported to have postponed indefinitely their planned wedding in Italy this year due to Covid-19.
They have frequently been spotted around Miami this summer, where they use A-Rod’s futuristic $5million mansion in swanky Coral Gables as a base.
The setback also comes at a critical time in the celebrity couple’s consortium bid to buy the New York Mets, with up to $300million of their own cash.
A-Rod and J-Lo – herself worth $400million – have teamed up with Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola and entrepreneur Mike Repole to seize control of the franchise for around $2billion.
The twists and turns of the negotiations mean they are in a close battle with billionaire Steve Cohen, who already has an eight per cent stake in the team, and Josh Harris and David Blitzer, owners of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils.
Rodriguez, who was a celebrity investor on ABC show Shark Tank for two seasons, set up in business with then brother-in-law Scurtis in 2003, a year after marrying Constantine’s sister Cynthia.
Their original partnership agreement gave the sports legend 95 per cent of the business and he put in all the cash. Scurtis got five per cent for his real estate and finance expertise, plus a three per cent acquisition fee on properties.
Between 2003 and 2008, the pair bought up apartment buildings to create a $1billion property empire with 5,000 units, according to court papers. They established 46 separate LLC companies – one for each property investment – between those years.
But Scurtis, 46, claims after A-Rod and Cynthia, 47, divorced in 2008 that he was pushed out of the venture and denied profits.
He has alleged the slugger started cutting him off from money he was due by replacing his name on some of the LLCs and other companies created to run the enterprise.
The ex-relative also claims A-Rod convinced him to defer the three per cent acquisition fee so the money could be used as liquid cash in the partnership. He alleges that figure is $8million.
But Rodriguez has filed a counterclaim in Miami, saying Scurtis took $1.4million out of the partnership without authorization in 2004 and 2005.
In her ruling, Judge Santovenia outlined the conditions that must be met for an application for punitive damages to be included. One was there must be ‘evidence of either intentional misconduct or gross misconduct that harmed the plaintiff’ (Scurtis).
Scurtis’ lawyer Gonzalo Dorto claimed the decision was a big win, adding: ‘Celebrities are not above the law.’
A-Rod’s attorney John Lukacs said: ‘We continue to view this case as baseless and absolutely dispute liability for all claims asserted.’
As a result of the decision, the legal team for Scurtis can now ask for discovery of A-Rod’s complete financial situation, including a microscopic review his income and assets.
A jury could then review this information to decide the amount of punitive damages if they were awarded.
The 14-time All Star earned $30million a year at the peak of his baseball career and since retiring has developed a reputation as an investor. He runs A-Rod Corp, which has money in Snapchat, NRG Esports and Presidente beer, of which the former player is co-owner and chairman.
The corporation also states its real estate arm, Monument Capital Management, has acquired $700million in property ventures.
But Rodriguez had a messy and expensive 2008 divorce from psychology graduate Cynthia, who he met in a Miami gym.
She alleged in her Miami court filing that the marriage was ‘irretrievably broken because of extra-marital affairs and other marital misconduct’. The divorce came months after the birth of their youngest daughter Ella, now 12. They also have Natasha, 15.
A-Rod reportedly agreed to $115,000 a month in child and spouse support. Two years ago it was reported he was trying to substantially reduce that amount because his earnings had dropped. He has denied the reports.
Cynthia now lives in Miami with Florida high-end real estate agent Angel Nicholas and the couple have a toddler daughter, Camilla.
In the original complaint filed in 2014, Scurtis alleged Rodriguez was guilty of beaching contracts. He said he had been ‘damaged’ by five per cent of the profits from every property sale mentioned in the filing, plus interest.
Additionally, the former relative called for every sale described in the law suit to be declared void and every property be returned to his own company, Acrei LLC.
One section read: ‘Defendant Rodriguez and his agents knew of the contractual relationship between Rodriguez and Scurtis, whereby Scurtis had the exclusive power to sell any of the real estate listed.
‘Rodriguez and/or his agents sold the properties in direct violation of the contract between Rodriguez and Scurtis and failed to notify and compensate Scurtis.’