Equitable Distribution

Spouse Must Produce Evidence of Conspiracy to Hide Marital Assets

In the family law, equitable distribution case of Khan vs. Vayn, PICS Case No. 14-0296,(E.D. PA, February 11, 2014) the Honorable J. Curtis Joyner granted defendant wife’s motion for summary judgment to husband’s complaint that wife conspired with third party to hide marital assets or property for purpose of equitable distribution.

Husband and wife owned pre-marital homes, which husband alleged they agreed to place in joint ownership. Husband transferred title to himself and wife, but wife never transferred title of her own property. During the marriage, wife purchased seven properties, five titled in her own name, one titled jointly with husband, and one, a commercial property titled under the name “Indian Creek Investments LLC.” (Husband alleged that funds used to purchase these parcels came, in large part or entirely, from some $1.5 million in loans taken out and liened against his pre-marital home, now in foreclosure.)

After husband and wife separated, third party Vayn acquired a 50 percent ownership interest in Indian Creek in exchange for an initial capital contribution of $173,000. Over the next few years, Vayn personally loaned wife approximately $190,000 and invested more than $500,000 in Indian Creek. Wife transferred her remaining interest in Indian Creek to Vayn in lieu of repaying the $190,000 debt. All these transactions were documented.

In the course of the divorce proceeding, husband filed a complaint against Vayn, accusing him of conspiring with wife, and of committing common law fraud and RICO violations. Specifically, husband alleged that Vayn conspired with wife to hide assets to deprive him of marital property for purposes of equitable distribution, and that documents concerning ownership of Indian Creek evince that Vayn fraudulently assumed ownership with the express purpose of convincing the divorce court that the real estate is not marital property. Both parties moved for summary judgment.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted Vayn’s motion.

There is absolutely no evidence that Indian Creek Investments is or ever was a “racketeering enterprise” that effected interstate commerce, nor is there any evidence to suggest that Vayn participated in a pattern of racketeering activity or that he knowingly received money through a patterns of racketeering activity which he subsequently invested in a racketeering enterprise. There is no evidence that Vayn committed any of the proscribed predicate acts or employed or conducted the affairs of Indian Creek improperly, much less through a pattern of racketeering activity.

Furthermore, there is no evidence to support husband’s common law fraud and conspiracy claims. Husband claims that wife and Vayn conspired to deprive him of his marital interest in Indian Creek by purportedly creating false and fraudulent documents. In the absence of any evidence that those documents are in fact false, they cannot withstand a motion for summary judgment.

Reference: Digest of Recent Opinions, Pennsylvania Law Weekly (March 4, 2014)

Filed Under: Divorce Litigation; Equitable Distribution; Marital Property

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