David Elder’s various plots to fleece the elderly are not bearing much fruit lately. His attempt to take Stanley Bard to the cleaners has now cost him and Marlene (and of course the other shareholders) a ton of money, as well as the last shred of their already tattered credibility. And now a California judge has thrown out Elder’s appeal of an earlier decision that granted his stepfather, renowned author Piri Thomas (Mean Streets), the right to collect the $1.2 million in dividends of which Elder sought to deprive him.
To recap: Elder administers a trust, set up by his deceased mother, Betty Gross Thomas, consisting of shares representing 16% of the Chelsea ’s ownership. The 81-year-old Thomas, a former Chelsea Hotel resident, is supposed to receive the dividends from this trust. In 2001 Elder decided he wasn’t going to pay the dividends to Piri anymore. So Piri sued Elder for the $1.2 million which Elder had failed to pay him. (Piri still had to pay taxes of $494,000 on the money!)
This dispute has been going on since 2001, with Piri winning every round. Even after they reached a settlement in March 2005—with Piri generously agreeing to pay Elder $177,500, presumably for his legal bills--Elder sued again, based on a bogus interpretation of a new law that had been passed by the California State Senate. The trial judge tossed the case out, saying, basically, that it had already been decided. Elder appealed again, which brings us to the present case, where the appeals court just ruled on April 10th that there was no merit to Elder’s case, saying it was “. . .nothing more than an attempt to resurrect their prior claim under the guise of a new claim. . .”
At one point in their long battle in the courts, Piri sued to remove Elder as a Trustee for breach of trust. For you see, Elder has a vested interest in depriving Piri of his money (as well as in prolonging the case), as, once Piri dies, Elder becomes the beneficiary of the trust. As part of the earlier mentioned settlement, Piri dropped these charges—only to be sued by Elder in return.
Although it appears that Elder is being manipulated by lawyers who are filling his head with dreams of becoming some sort of millionaire real-estate mogul, it doesn’t change the fact that he has proven himself both morally and fiduciarily unfit to administer the trust in question. For this same reason, he should be removed from the Board of Directors of the Chelsea Hotel.
Anyway, congratulations to Piri for his victory in a fight he did not seek. Justice has been done, and let’s hope that this is finally the end to a truly shameful saga of greed and moral depravity. – Ed Hamilton