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Vikings owners ordered to pay $110 million

MORRISTOWN, N.J. — A judge ordered the Minnesota Vikings owners to pay a $110 million bond Friday after they were found guilty this summer of cheating partners in a New Jersey apartment complex.

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The Star Ledger in New Jersey reported that Judge Deanne Wilson handed down the order that guarantees the penalty will be collected if the family loses its appeal. Brothers Zygi and Mark Wilf and their cousin Leonard Wilf were found guilty of cheating two partners out of profits in the 764-unit apartment complex in Montville, N.J.

Zygi and Mark Wilf are principle Vikings owners and have said the New Jersey lawsuit will not affect the team. A state investigation backed that up.

In her last action before she retired, Wilson ordered the Wilfs to pay $63.1 million to Ada Reichmann of Toronto; $39.9 million to her brother, Josef Halpern of Brooklyn; and $7 million in interest.

The Wilfs also must pay legal fees.

“This is the case of a judge’s lifetime,” Wilson told the Star-Ledger. “There were many hotly contested legal and factual issues.”

The civil racketeering trial began in May 2011, for a case that was filed in 1992, and Wilson handed down her verdict in August. That took many in Minnesota by surprise, including Gov. Mark Dayton, even though there had been limited publicity about the case in Minnesota.

After the verdict, Dayton immediately ordered an investigation into whether the case could affect construction of a nearly $1 billion stadium for the Vikings football games and other uses. The probe showed the Wilfs, who are paying some stadium construction costs, have enough money that the team and stadium should not suffer.

Stadium groundbreaking was earlier this month and the Vikings have pledged to increase their financial commitment to it if needed to provide some amenities they want such as better Internet connections.

While the Wilfs will not be forced to pay the partners until their appeal is decided, which could take years, Wilson ordered them to give the court a $110 million bond by Jan. 8.

Part of the dispute in the case was whether the Wilfs’ financial worth should be released to the public. While Wilson used it to figure damages, the family is appealing its release. If they lose the appeal, their worth could be released in February.