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VOL. 129 | NO. 115 | Friday, June 13, 2014

Questions Raised About 100 N. Main Developer

By Amos Maki

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Clarification: The article in the June 16 issue of The Memphis Daily News about 100 N. Main developer Isaac Thomas contains facts from a judge’s opinion rendered after a civil judgment – not a criminal case – in Connecticut that held Thomas liable for an investor's $80,000 loss in a real estate venture. After a civil trial, Thomas was found liable under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act and was ordered to pay $160,000 plus attorney fees and costs. While he was also found liable for conversion, unjust enrichment and breach of fiduciary duty, no additional damages were awarded for those claims. Thomas was not criminally charged.

Questions swirl around the man behind the proposed redevelopment of the 100 N. Main St. building Downtown. Yitzchok “Isaac” Thomas has previously been convicted in Connecticut of scamming real estate investors. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

The man behind the proposed redevelopment of the 100 N. Main St. skyscraper Downtown has previously been convicted of scamming real estate investors.

Yitzchok “Isaac” Thomas was found guilty in Connecticut of using a real estate investor’s funds to enrich himself.

Thomas’ transgression further confounds his ability to transform 100 N. Main, the city’s tallest building and a fixture of the Downtown skyline.

A Nevada-based entity called One Hundred North Main LLC acquired the 37-story tower in August on a seller-financed note from the previous owner, the Zimmerman Revocable Trust, for $5 million, according to people familiar with the transaction.

Thomas is listed as the registered agent for the new ownership entity, which includes only two members and has essentially promised to pay off the $5 million price tag.

Thomas has moved tenants out of the building to make way for a proposed mixed-use development that will feature hotel rooms and apartment units, but no work appears to have been done on the property. Thomas could not be reached for comment.

Thomas was found guilty of using a real estate investor’s funds to enrich himself.

Thomas, who has ties to Memphis and Israel, was previously found guilty in Connecticut of scamming a real estate investor out of $80,000, according to 2012 court records.

In 2005, Daniel Altmann, a French businessman living in Paris, was convinced by his son, Isaac Altmann, to invest $80,000 in undetermined real estate deals that Thomas would help facilitate.

Court records show that while Thomas held no formal training or license in real estate, he was known to be involved in the real estate business.

Daniel Altmann wired $80,000 to Thomas’ attorney, but Thomas used the funds to create a company then acquire and flip a property himself.

Thomas’ newly created company, of which he was the sole controller, purchased a property at 144 Bishop St. in Waterbury, Conn., for $54,707, and the remaining funds were used to pay closing fees, sale-related costs, the hiring of a renovation contractor and to pay Thomas $7,657.

Thomas then told the Altmanns in early 2006 that a contractor had “stolen” some of the money. Shortly afterward, Thomas made his way to Israel, where Daniel Altmann found him in the summer of 2006, according to court records.

Thomas blamed the Altmanns for entrusting their money to a “kid” in the real estate business.

“Nobody would think a 22-year-old was experienced,” Thomas said, according to court records.

But the Superior Court of Connecticut found that Thomas breached his fiduciary duty to Daniel Altmann, and was guilty of unjust enrichment and other violations. The court, which referred to Thomas as “a sometimes resident of Memphis,” assessed $160,000 in damages against Thomas.

Thomas consistently listed his address during the proceedings as “c/o Al Thomas & Associates, 100 N. Main Street, Suite 2901, Memphis, Tennessee 38103.” That is the same address Thomas lists as the registered agent for the entity that acquired the 100 N. Main property.

The court said Daniel Altmann “looked to Thomas to use his money wisely and carefully; his expectation was that Thomas would be loyal to him and exercise care in expending his money. That trust in Thomas is the lynchpin of a fiduciary relationship. Thomas did not meet his burden of proving fairness, honesty, and integrity in the relationship.”

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