By Joel Grossbarth
The family that was primarily responsible for bringing Rockland County the Palisades Center Mall is involved in a contentious litigation over what is claimed to be theft, conversion and improper loans of monies held in several family trusts. Lawrence Adler and his three sisters, Arlene Adler, Judy Adler and Elizabeth Adler Scaccio are suing their brothers Paul Adler and Robert Adler. All the parties to the lawsuit are the children of the late Rockland developer and philanthropist Harry and Thelma Adler.
The lawsuit alleges that on multiple occasions Robert Adler and/or Paul Adler stole or borrowed money from Thelma Adler, the Estate of Harry Adler, or other trusts, and family entities and did not document these transactions. The lawsuit also names Rose Marie Pelatti, a local real estate broker who allegedly formed business ventures with Robert Adler stemming from, what is claimed to be, the illegally obtained funds. Then according to the lawsuit, these “non-family” entities, bought various properties, all while freezing out the other four children. The lawsuit claims the total amount due and owing to Plaintiffs amounts to at least $10,981,911.
The lawsuit was the culmination of several social media posts by Lawrence Adler. In a Facebook post on September 5, 2018, Lawrence Adler wrote:
“In an effort to continue to honor him (Harry Adler), his known desires, and his legacy – and after more that a year of patience, discussions, and pleas with our brothers – my sisters and I will be pursuing legal justice against our brothers Robert and Paul for their actions against our mother, family entities, and us. Dad (and Mom) would be sickened to know what his two older boys did – and didn’t do – for their mother and family in his absence. He would be shaken to his core to hear their words that ‘what they did was morally questionable but legally ok’. In our recent times, where more and more people are standing up for themselves and others that have been wronged … and where the truth is disregarded, we are not going to be bullied or quieted about the truth.”
Paul Adler is no stranger to controversy. He was the former chairman of the Rockland Democratic Party. In 2000, Adler was arrested for public corruption after prosecutors claimed he extorted $375,000 through a series of real estate transactions tainted by fraud, bribery and extortion. Federal prosecutors accused Paul Adler of having threatened local politicians with the loss of their jobs if they did not cooperate with him on several deals, including one involving the controversial Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack. In a secret tape-recorded conversation, he argued that he had not assumed the party chairmanship to ‘’lose money’.’ Adler was recorded as saying, ‘’If you can’t help your friends, then why get into some of these positions?’’ After pleading guilty, Adler was released from federal prison in 2004 and has rejoined the Rockland community as a real estate broker and attorney.
The lawsuit seeks recoupment of the monies actually taken from the various trusts and damages based upon the alleged breach of fiduciary duties owed the trusts and beneficiaries by Paul and Robert Adler. The lawsuit also seeks to have Paul and Robert Adler removed as trustees from any other Adler family trusts.