What a holy mess.
The married founder and former religious leader of the controversial Ground Zero mosque project allegedly embezzled millions from his Muslim charity to lavish gifts on a special lady friend, buy a sports car and vacation around the globe, according to a lawsuit filed by a disgruntled financial backer.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf treated his Cordoba Initiative and Shariah Index Project, nonprofits meant to promote religious tolerance and fight anti-Muslim bigotry, like a personal piggy bank, the suit filed by Westchester businessman Robert Leslie Deak alleges.
Over several years, Rauf had accepted $167,000 from Deak, a self-described Muslim convert and Middle East expert who advises the Center for a New American Security and the National Defense University Foundation.
But that money was “utilized by Rauf for his personal use” along with his third wife, Daisy Khan, according to the Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit.
Their spending was “not limited to a luxury sports car, personal real estate, entertainment, lavish trips and vacations with Evelyn Adorno and support of Evelyn Adorno, gifts and other personal uses,” the suit alleges.
“It is my information that she and Imam Feisal have a long-standing personal relationship,” said Deak’s attorney, Jonathan Nelson.
Adorno declined to comment at her New Jersey home.
Rauf’s attorney, Paul Knight, declined to comment on Adorno.
But Knight “denied the allegations that are raised” and said Rauf will “vigorously defend himself and show that [the suit] has no basis.”
In the suit, Deak and his wife, Moshira Solimon, further allege that Rauf’s nonprofit accepted $3 million in donations from the government of Malaysia to expand the Cordoba Initiative, but never declared to the IRS the donations in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Deak and his wife are seeking up to $25 million in punitive damages.
Rauf, who was removed from the Park51 mosque project two years ago, has long enjoyed the finer things in life.
A profile by Forbes noted that he favors luxury cars, Armani and Brioni business suits, fine silks and antique prayer rugs.
The bad blood between Deak and Rauf is not new.
Rauf had separately sued Deak last year alleging the businessman conned him into paying $1.5 million for a Washington, DC, condo worth only a third of that.
Rauf was booted from the mosque project in January 2011 by Sharif el-Gamal, after the imam’s alleged grandstanding and public-relations blunders proved to be a distraction, sources said.
Source: NY Post