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Ashley Furniture founder’s firm accused of defrauding Chicago company

in Local Courts by
Third Lake Capital founder Ronald Wanek, who also created Ashley Furniture.

To settle a $20 million Illinois lawsuit, a Chicago-based company is suing a local firm created by the St. Petersburg-based founder of Ashley Furniture to retrieve documents necessary to help its ongoing case.

When M & J Wilkow filed suit in April 2016 against its former employees, the company subpoenaed Third Lake Capital — an investment company of Ronald Wanek, founder of Ashley Furniture — to provide documents providing information on the employee scheme in September.

However, Third Lake denied M & J access to the documents.

The suit has since spilled over into Hillsborough County as M & J Wilkow attempts to retrieve the documents. In a Dec. 8 petition, M & J seeks the court to compel Third Lake Capital to produce the documents, as well as pay back M & J for attorney’s fees.

The April suit claims that four former M & J Wilkow employees engaged in acts of fraud. The latest suit alleges Third Lake Capital provided the financial backing, assistance and direction to the traitors.

The four men were senior employees of M & J. They allegedly devised a plan to create a competing company and attempted to steal business from the company.

As stated by the suit, in 2015, Third Lake decided to expand to Chicago. It created new positions for commercial real estate investors and property managers. The new Chicago branch was know as the “Fairbourne team.” In Dec 2015, Third Lake Capital created Fairbourne Partners and Fairbourne Properties. The team is led by third Lake CEO, Kenneth Jones, and ex-M & J Executive VP, David Harvey. Harvey is one of the four men named in the April 2016 suit.

The initial subpoena petitioned for 23 documents to be turned over to M & J Wilkow. Third Lake Capital objected to 12 of the requested documents. The remaining 11 documents were never sent to M & J Wilkow.

Documents requested included three categories: documents relating to the creation of Fairbourne, documents relating to real estate assets sent to Third Lake from employees while they were still working at M & J, and documents that name M & J Wilkow President Marc Wilkow.

M & J Wilkow is a redeveloper and manager of commercial real estate throughout the country. Its regional office is in Centro Ybor, an entertainment complex in Tampa.

Third Lake Capital was created by the Wanek as an investment vehicle for his family’s wealth. Third Lake Capital bought Ker’s WingHouse in 2014, the same year it was founded.




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