The son of a Texas billionaire wages a chaotic legal battle against his late father’s alleged “mistress”, accusing the Los Angeles celebrity of extortion in hopes of avoiding the millions she allegedly owes from his father’s estate.
Bradford Phillips, son of Dallas real estate developer Gene E. Phillips, filed two lawsuits against Marsana de Monserat in California and Texas earlier this year. The lawsuits came after De Monserat requested $ 2.6 million in refinancing proceeds from a Florida rental property she owned but left the late Phillips to manage, along with $ 1.7 million from a promissory note, which she supposedly received.
In January, Phillips filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court accusing the jet setting entrepreneur of blackmail, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and willful infliction of emotional distress. This after Monserat’s attorney sent a letter to the younger Phillips advising that the attorney would be approaching the IRS and state housing authorities about the missing $ 2.6 million.
As the local news agency MyNewsLA.com reported, Santa Monica Judge Mark Epstein issued a preliminary ruling against Phillips on Monday, saying he would likely dismiss his lawsuit as the letter from De Monserat’s attorney was under the state’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit against public participation) Articles of Association. However, Epstein did not specify when he would issue his final decision.
For her part, De Monserat said in a recent court case that Phillip’s complaint against her was an “attempt to abuse the legal system in the hope of frightening” [her] To move away from her business interests with “his late father.
Neither Bradford Phillips, De Monserat, nor their lawyers responded immediately to requests for comment on Tuesday.
Phillips’ original complaint named De Monserat “one of several long-term lovers” of his late father, to whom he “made loans, offered investment opportunities and otherwise provided money to De Monserat” because of her “personal relationship”. (It is worth noting that Phillips’ first amended complaint omitted the term “beloved” when referring to De Monserat.)
“Although Mr. Phillips was very successful, he was also a controversial figure,” reads the original file on the plaintiff’s father, Gene. The document adds that Bradford Phillips, the CEO of a life insurance company, “had to overcome his father’s reputation with corporate regulators and others.”
In fact, the Wall Street Journal once described Gene, who died in August 2019, as “one of the most controversial figures in public real estate,” in part because of a shareholder lawsuit alleging he “abused his position to milk the company’s assets.” “. his private use. ”In 2002, Phillips and an associate were acquitted of extortion, wire transfer fraud, and other allegations. The federal prosecutors alleged they were part of an alleged scheme involving bribes to labor officials and gangsters.
In an amended complaint, the younger Phillips says he became the executor of his father’s estate and took control of his property but “had no business or other dealings with De Monserat”. The lawsuit continues: “Since De Monserat’s only connection to Gene Phillips’ business came from her role as a social acquaintance, [Bradford] cut off the flow of money to De Monserat in August 2019. “
Then, early last year, De Monserat and Phillips met to “discuss their dealings with the estate and its assets,” but failed to come to an agreement, according to Phillips’ lawsuit. In February of that year, De Monserat’s lawyer, John Polzer, contacted Phillips in a letter threatening legal action against the heir if he did not pay her.
In the letter, Polzer accused Phillips of “fraudulent activity” – including misappropriating the $ 2.6 million loan that De Monserat claims was linked to a Ministry of Housing and Urban Development project – and warned him not to alert the Internal Revenue Service, HUD, and the federal housing company. Phillips was not charged with any crime related to the episode.
A copy of Polzer’s letter attached to the court records shows that the attorney was determining what could happen if Phillips didn’t respond.
“We will be forced to use other remedies available to us, including, but not limited to, filing a lawsuit against you individually in connection with, among other things, your misappropriation of the $ 2.6 million estate suit against the testator because of fraudulent incitement with various signatures he obtained from our customer, as well as further information “from the government authorities.
In other words, the Feds might get involved.
Polzer’s letter also alleged that the late Gene Phillips appears to run a “deliberately complex network of businesses and oversee the execution of many related party transactions for the benefit of himself or his friends”.
“Our customer would like to break free from this network,” wrote Polzer.
In a statement accompanying De Monserat’s motion to initiate the lawsuit, the celebrity said she first met Gene Phillips in the mid-1990s. “As a result, we got close personally [sic] Friends and began working together on a number of real estate projects starting with the purchase of an apartment complex in Los Angeles in the late 1990s, ”said De Monserat.
De Monserat added, “Gene Phillips was in complete control of the management and operation of the various properties I owned and invested in as directed and advised by Gene Phillips.”
She stated that she bought a large Florida apartment complex in October 2015 and “allowed Gene Phillips to take control of the management and all business related to this property, just like I did with our previous real estate investments.”
Two years later, De Monserat claims, Gene suggested that she buy a property in Texas by refinancing the Florida complex. Then, in May 2019, the De Monserat, FL Westwood company received a loan insured by HUD to be used as a down payment in the Lone Star State.
“Although FL Westwood owned and borrowed, and I believe I signed all loan documents on behalf of FL Westwood, this HUD refinance transaction was orchestrated and at all times by Mr. Phillips and those who worked for him or were related to him De Monserat added in the statement. “The refinancing closed in May 2019, a few months before Gene Phillips passed away.”
“Neither FL Westwood nor I received a penny from the loan proceeds from FL Westwood,” continued De Monserat. “They were transferred to my now dismissed management company … which then, at the direction of Gene Phillips, transferred all of the refinancing proceeds to an account controlled by” one of Gene Phillips’ business associates.
De Monserat says that after Gene’s death, Bradford Phillips directed his father’s businesses to exclude them from the real estate projects she shared with the tycoon.
“After Mr. Phillips ‘death, around January 2020, I asked the plaintiff, executor of Gene Phillips’ estate, to provide me with a record of all the properties I owned and the investments I had with his father.” Monserat explained. “I received little or no information from the plaintiff.”
In a motion to commence the lawsuit, De Monserat also targeted Bradford Phillips’ original complaint, in which he described Gene as “a controversial life” while amassing his $ 3.5 billion fortune. In their plea, Bradford Phillips appeared to “disapprove of the manner in which his father amassed his fortune, but now wants to reap the rewards of his fortune as an executor by helping those whom his father entrusted and willingly hired, takes away “. Business.”
She also accused Bradford Phillips and his lawyer of attempting to “humiliate” her by calling her “one of Mr. Phillips’ long-time lovers who has nothing to offer from a business perspective …”.
In his complaint, Bradford Phillips described De Monserat’s allegations as “unfounded” and said the specter of “investigations by various government agencies would cause a significant disruption” to his business.
The lawsuit adds that Phillips “was feared that criminal allegations were being made against him, his family and the property” and that that “fear caused him significant emotional distress and, as an immediate consequence, harm”.
While their legal turmoil is unfolding in California, the case Phillips filed against De Monserat in the Dallas County Probate Court is pending. This legal filing suggests that a $ 1.7 million “alleged” promissory note signed by Gene Phillips on behalf of De Monserat in January 2014 is no longer valid as a statute of limitations on repayment has expired is.