A legal battle erupted Friday over allegations Nevada lobbyist and developer Harvey Whittemore embezzled tens of millions of dollars from companies he co-managed.
Three limited liability companies that include investors Thomas Seeno, Walnut Creek, Calif.; and Albert Seeno Jr., Concord, Calif., filed suit against Whittemore in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas.
Wingfield Nevada Group Holding Co. LLC was among the companies suing Whittemore on Friday. The suit was filed by attorneys at the law firm Pisanelli Bice PLLC in Las Vegas and the firm Robison, Belaustegui, Sharp & Low in Reno.
The suit charges that after Whittemore sold interests in several companies to the Seenos, the Seenos “began noticing discrepancies in Wingfield’s financial books and records.”
An investigation then led the Seenos to believe Whittemore was involved in “misappropriation, breach of fiduciary duties and embezzlement of tens of millions of dollars.”
Some of the companies involved in the dispute are a Dr Pepper/7Up bottler in Reno and a company called Coyote Springs Investment LLC.
Coyote Springs Investment LLC and its sister company, Coyote Springs Land Co. LLC, are already mired in litigation with Pardee Homes over problems at the Coyote Springs housing development north of Las Vegas.
News of Friday’s lawsuit was first reported by the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Whittemore, an attorney, told the Gazette-Journal: “These allegations are false. We will take any and all steps necessary to preserve the reputation for integrity that we have built in this state for over 40 years.”
In several similar lawsuits pitting former business partners against each other, Nevada judges have typically ordered the parties to pay for an independent audit to help sort out claims of wrongdoing.
Frequently, auditors home in on whether expenses, revenue, profits and losses were accurately reported and were appropriately apportioned among various companies and investors.
Such suits typically involve counterclaims alleging wrongdoing by the suing parties and often end with one group of investors buying out the other group.