A lender to indicted restaurateur Harendra Singh filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday demanding that the Town of Oyster Bay make payments on guarantees on a defaulted $7.8 million loan.
PHL Variable Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Connecticut-based The Phoenix Companies, alleges in the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Central Islip that it was “damaged as a direct result of . . . misrepresentations” by former Oyster Bay deputy attorney Frederick Mei.
PHL had been assured the town would back the loan, according to the suit, which seeks unspecified damages.
The borrower, Singh’s S.R.B. Convention & Catering Corp., defaulted on the loans last year. Town officials have disputed that the loan guarantees are valid or enforceable.
“The town is going to defend itself vigorously in the suit,” Oyster Bay’s outside attorney, Jonathan Pickhardt of Manhattan-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, said Tuesday.
The loan was supposed to be used to finance capital improvements at the town-owned Woodlands catering hall.
Singh was charged in federal court on Sept. 9 with 13 felony counts, including bribing an Oyster Bay official to obtain $20 million in loan guarantees — the principal and interest on the Woodlands loan, as well as a loan for improvements of food concessions at Tobay Beach. He has pleaded not guilty.
The suit comes as town officials, a group of investors and Phoenix have been negotiating a revised agreement that would have removed the disputed loan guarantees. The investors, led by New Hyde Park businessman Ravinder Chopra, have been operating the Woodlands catering hall.
Although Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto announced in February that a proposal to remove the loan guarantees would be considered, nothing has been presented to the town board for a vote.
“We had been advised that no deal had been reached” between the investors and Phoenix, Pickhardt said Tuesday. He said the town expects Phoenix to file a suit in state court as well.
Included in the filing is a June 16, 2015, letter to Phoenix’s loan broker from Oyster Bay Special Counsel Thomas Sabellico that the loan guarantee documents were “null and void.” Mei resigned on Aug. 31, 2015.
Phoenix demanded payment from the town on the disputed guarantees on Feb. 26.