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Justice rules against Great Neck woman claiming fraud in divorce

Exterior of 145 West Street in the Greenpoint

Exterior of 145 West Street in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. (June 25, 2013) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Deborah Etzion thought she had gotten a fair enough deal when she walked away from her 27-year marriage with a $3 million Great Neck home, plus about $9.7 million, legal papers show.

But that was before she found out that, only months after the settlement, her ex, Raphael Etzion, had sold a Brooklyn warehouse he had taken in the divorce -- one they had agreed was worth about $7.7 million -- for a staggering $84.5 million, court papers say.

Ever since that 2005 shocker, Deborah Etzion has been trying to show that her former husband knew the zoning on the Greenpoint warehouse was about to change and was putting the wheels in motion for a deal before the settlement. But in a decision released this week, state Supreme Court Justice Edward Maron denied her claim and dismissed her case.

"After five years of discovery, review and production of over 38,000 pages of documents and over 500,000 pages of document fragments, and fourteen depositions served on third party brokers, attorneys and real estate companies in the Greenpoint area, wife has failed to uncover any evidence" that Raphael Etzion defrauded her, the decision reads.

Raphael Etzion's lawyer, Harris Cogan, of Manhattan, said he is pleased with the decision.

Deborah Etzion's lawyer, Elliot Samuelson of Garden City, declined to comment except to say that he will appeal.

According to legal papers, the warehouse, which was at 145 West Street in Brooklyn, had been used to store merchandise for Raphael Etzion's Christmas ornament business, Variety Accessories Inc.

But in 2003, New York City announced plans to revitalize the waterfront in Greenpoint, turning what was once warehouse space into housing, surrounded by a public esplanade and a park. The zoning for the West Street warehouse was officially changed in May 2005, seven weeks after the divorcing couple agreed upon terms of the settlement, court papers say.

Deborah Etzion didn't know about the rezoning plan, according to court papers, and was instead relying on a 2-year-old assessment of the warehouse. It took her ex-husband about five months after the rezoning to enter into the $84.5 million sale contract, the decision said.

Deborah Etzion filed a lawsuit against her husband in 2007, saying that, even though news of the rezoning was public, he had an obligation to make sure she was aware of it before they settled. An appellate court dismissed some of her claims. But it said she would have a valid complaint if she could show he had started making the deal for the sale before the settlement was final. Raphael Etzion denies this in court papers.


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