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Joseph Zada

Joseph Zada

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What's this?Please select....Baseball TicketsNBA TicketsNFL TicketsNASCAR TicketsWWE TicketsGolf TicketsTennis Tickets Sergei Fedorov: Financial adviser swiped $43MPosted | Comment | Recommend E-mail | Save | Print | By M.L.

Elrick, Detroit Free PressFor nearly 20 years, former Red Wing great Sergei Fedorov has victimized opponents with slick skating and a deadly shot.Now he says he is the victim, swindled out of $43 million by a Grosse Pointe Shores man entrusted to manage his money.In a lawsuit expected to be filed Thursday in Wayne County Circuit Court, Fedorov accuses Joseph Zada of embezzling the money during the past 11 years.

Describing Fedorov as "a Russian-born individual who has limited knowledge of and experience in investment, legal and financial matters," the lawsuit says Zada "by deceit and fraud worked his way into the confidence of Fedorov."Zada challenged on Wednesday the amount Fedorov says he gave him, and denied trying to scam him.

And he said it was a loan, not an investment.Zada acknowledged agreeing to pay Fedorov $60 million earlier this year to resolve the matter.

Fedorov's suit says the money was never paid."It is my intent to make whole and hopefully we can resolve this," Zada said.

"I still believe we can still be friends."Fedorov is not Zada's only problem.

Former friends and business associates in Michigan and Florida, where Zada is active in equestrian pursuits, have filed lawsuits claiming Zada cheated them out of millions.Early bonanza sealed Fedorov's trustThe year 1998 was a big one for Fedorov.He signed one of the most lucrative contracts in hockey history — a $38-million, 6-year deal.He and the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup.He was often spotted with teenage tennis sensation Anna Kournikova — widely considered one of the most beautiful women in the world.And he met Zada.Things started out well enough.

A mutual friend who worked at a metro Detroit Porsche dealership, where Fedorov and Zada were customers, introduced them, said Marc Beginin, Fedorov's attorney.Fedorov invested some money with Zada.

Before long, he received "a substantial return," Beginin said.Based on that early success, Fedorov entrusted Zada with additional loot earned over the course of his stellar NHL career.

In all, the Russian-born hockey superstar gave Zada more than $43 million, according to a lawsuit Beginin said he was filing Thursday.

An advance copy of the suit was provided to the Free Press.The trust between the men was so strong that Fedorov never received any paperwork documenting his investment's performance."Whenever Fedorov inquired about the entrusted assets, Zada, acting in concert with others, intentionally lied to Fedorov, provided Fedorov with false information and engaged in other fraud and deceptions," the suit says, adding that when Fedorov asked for his money, Zada did not return it.Making a dealOn March 6, however, Zada and Fedorov struck a deal that called for Zada to pay Fedorov $60 million within 45 days to resolve their dispute.The one thing that Fedorov and Zada agree on is that the $60 million was never paid."I'm absolutely not debating that money is owed," Zada told the Free Press during a phone conversation Wednesday, acknowledging the agreement with Fedorov.But Zada, who has a Lake Shore Drive home in Grosse Pointe Shores, said the money Fedorov gave him was not an investment, it was a loan."Sergei has been, and I am hopeful soon will be again, an amazing and necessary presence of friendship in my life," Zada wrote in an e-mail.

"He has always been there for me as I have been for him and I truly do appreciate him.

Although things may be uncomfortable given the circumstances, my commitment to him has not and will not waiver."Due to circumstances beyond my control, there have been delays in repaying obligations to him.

However, they are just that, 'delays.' Those delays do not change the fact that, one, I am doing everything humanly possible to correct this situation; two, repayment is imminent, and three, I hope to soon permanently repair our relationship.

I remain focused on fully resolving this issue."Beginin, Fedorov's attorney, countered: "Sergei is, of course, open to being paid back all of the substantial amount of funds involved in this matter."Despite the millions of dollars at stake, Fedorov is not likely to miss any meals.On June 25, he signed a 2-year deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk that is believed to be worth $4 million a year, ESPN reported.

The Russian team plays in the Continental Hockey League, also known as the KHL, which features dozens of former NHL players and a few aging stars.Fedorov, 39, was not available for comment because he is overseas preparing for the upcoming KHL season.Although he is the most well-known person to sue Zada, he is far from the only one.During the past 14 months, eight individuals and businesses have sued Zada in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeking millions they say Zada owed them.

Only a couple of the cases have been resolved.Zada also has drawn the anger of former friends and business associates in Florida, where he is so passionate about horses that he sponsors equestrian events.Ron Davis, a filmmaker whose documentary Pageant follows five men competing in the Miss Gay America contest, has begun work on a film about his relationship with Zada.Called Riches to Rags, it details how Zada allegedly ripped off friends for millions of dollars."He claims that I loaned him money and that our friends loaned him money," Davis said.

"Why would you lend your richest friend money? That doesn't make sense.?… He came to us with a business venture."Good intentionsAlthough Davis said he feels betrayed by Zada — who he estimates owes him about $1.8?million — he said he does not believe Zada set out to cheat him."I can't believe in my heart of hearts he set out to do this," Davis said.

"Somewhere along the way something went wrong."Zada, who calls some of the Florida accusations "orchestrated character assassinations," created a website —— to counter certain allegations.On the site, he writes: "Ron Davis and I have a business dispute and he has opted to resort to melodrama, hoped-for embarrassment and slander instead of testing his claim for money in a court of law."Two other former Zada friends, Robert Dover and Robert Ross, claim Zada owed them $4 million each.

The men's attorney, Don Dufresne, said Zada agreed to pay them the money, but never did.

So they sued him.

The case ended with settlements in which Zada agreed to pay the men unspecified amounts, according to Palm Beach County, Fla., court records.Dufresne said Zada has yet to pay the money.Dufresne, who said he has sued Zada on behalf of other clients, added: "Joe Zada appears to have a successful track record of getting people to trust him."Zada, though, citing "a sad time in our economy," asked for patience."It is circumstances, certainly not my intent, that have kept me from keeping my obligations," he told the Free Press on Wednesday.

"I am absolutely confident in myself and resolution of my situation, and I will make right any legitimate debt that I do owe." The Detroit Free Press is owned by Gannett, parent company of USA TODAY© Copyright 2007 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co.

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