The New York Daily News Reports that Sharif El-Gamal, the developer behind Park 51, has a history of run-ins with the law:
Years before his latest real-estate project ignited an uproar, Sharif El-Gamal racked up at least seven run-ins with the law, including a bust for patronizing a prostitute.
“I regret many things that I did in my youth. I have not always led a perfect life,” El-Gamal, 37, said in a statement to the Daily News.
His most recent arrest was for a Sept. 10, 2005, assault on a barber who sublet a Manhattan apartment from El-Gamal’s brother, Sammy.
So “his youth” includes an an arrest when he was 32 year old for assaulting a tenant he was late with the rent.
The brothers and another man went to the apartment that afternoon to retrieve back rent from Mark Vassiliev, criminal and civil court records show.
El-Gamal allegedly cursed at Vassiliev, called him the Arabic curse word “sharmouta” and punched him in the face, breaking his nose and cheekbones.
When he was arrested, El-Gamal denied he socked Vassiliev, but conceded, “[Vassiliev’s] face could have run into my hand,” court papers say.
“I am in real estate. I’m rich. Why would I do this? Why would I jeopardize my career? I’m not a thug,” he told cops.
He was charged with misdemeanor assault and harassment. Charges were dropped in 2007 after Vassiliev sued.
El-Gamal eventually settled the civil case for $15,000 – and the 2008 negotiations provided a glimpse into his finances.
Last week, Raza and a Canadian 9/11 widow attended a meeting about the mosque in New York City.
“They were very arrogant. They didn’t answer questions,” Raza told QMI Agency.
The meeting was hosted by Daisy Khan, the wife of the imam promoting the mosque and Sharif El Gamal, the man whose property firm owns the land the mosque is to be built on.
Raza says she asked questions about who was financing the building, estimated to cost $100 million, and whether any of the money would come from countries other than the U.S.
There has been speculation that the mosque is being funded through Saudi Arabian sources, but at the Manhattan meeting Raza said there were no answers.
On Monday, back in Toronto, Raza says she received a call from a man who identified himself as Sharif El Gamal. “His tone was intimidating,” said Raza. “He accused me of ‘jumping into’ the meeting he called and then said ‘May Allah protect you.’ I was shocked and hung up.”
Raza says El Gamal’s tone was threatening and she took the phone call as a clear threat against her and not as some claim, a casual phrase meaning goodbye.
“Why would I need Allah’s protection?” asked Raza.
El Gamal told the Niagara Falls Review on their second attempt at an interview that “there was no phone call made by anybody” before again hanging up.
Raza insists there was a call, “I saved the number on my cell.” The number on Raza’s cellphone matches that of El Gamal’s Soho Properties offices in New York.
Hat tip: Weasel Zippers
Weasel Zippers: More About That Ground Zero Mosque – Tax Problems?
Sharif El-Gamal, the leading organizer behind the mosque and community center near Ground Zero, owes $224,270.77 in back property tax on the site, city records show. El-Gamal’s company, 45 Park Place Partners, failed to pay its half-yearly bills in January and July, according to the city Finance Department.
The delinquency is a possible violation of El-Gamal’s lease with Con Edison, which owns half of the proposed building site on Park Place. El-Gamal owns the other half but must pay taxes on the entire parcel. The lease agreement, obtained by The Post, specifies that El-Gamal’s company pay taxes on the property and submit receipts to Con Ed. The utility said it would have to review any possible lease violations.