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Investors sue Cozen O’Connor, Blank Rome for $27 million

Plaintiffs say firms’ former partner persuaded them to invest tens of millions of dollars in fake project

Two law firms just received an unwanted holiday gift: a lawsuit.

A group of British investors is suing Cozen O’Connor and Blank Rome, claiming a former partner who had worked at both firms conspired with a landlord and his business partner to persuade them to invest tens of millions of dollars in a fictitious real estate development project in Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs filed their suit Tuesday in Manhattan federal court and are seeking at least $27 million from the firms.

According to the suit, Charles Naselsky, a former Cozen O’Connor and Blank Rome real estate transaction partner, advised landlord Ravinder Chawla and his business partner, Richard Zeghibe, on the project, which was supposed to be a 12-million-square-foot mixed-use development featuring 600-foot-tall skyscrapers. In their complaint, the investors say they were never made aware that the project was legally impermissible. The investors are suing the two firms for conspiracy to defraud and for aiding and abetting fraud in connection with Naselsky’s role in the project.

Naselsky, however, isn’t named as a defendant in the suit. The former partner is current serving a six-year prison sentence for tax evasion, wire fraud and obstruction of justice in a separate matter.

In a statement to Thomson Reuters, Blank Rome said it “denies any fraud on the part of the Firm, and we intend to defend the action vigorously.” Cozen O’Connor had no comment on the matter.

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Ashley Post

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