New Fresno lawsuit pits father against son in struggle for control of Assemi family business
The son of one of Fresno’s wealthiest and most politically influential families is suing his father and uncles, accusing them of fraud, mismanagement and “a pattern of racketeering activity.”
Kevin Assemi, an attorney, businessman and the son of Assemi Group CEO Farid Assemi, filed the lawsuit on Dec. 15 in Fresno County Superior Court.
The suit names as defendants brothers Farid, Farshid, and Darius Assemi, as well as the Assemi Group, Inc., and several subsidiaries, employees and associates of the company. It cites more than two dozen causes of action, including “repeated financial frauds affecting members of their extended family, lenders, and businesses.”
Representatives for the Assemi Group couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday morning.
In a news release Tuesday night, Stan Blyth, the Fresno attorney representing Kevin Assemi, said the legal battle has been brewing since at least 2019 when Kevin Assemi was forced out of the family’s primary agriculture company, Maricopa Orchards.
According to the lawsuit, Kevin Assemi was granted control of a new Assemi company, Elevated Ag., LLC, “– that was promised – but did not receive – the full level of funding from Assemi entities and business associates.”
“The roots of this ouster came as Farid Assemi, the chief executive of Assemi Group, Inc., began exhibiting unusual, irrational behavior that was affecting his ability to manage the firm,” Blyth said in the statement. “As this behavior persisted, Kevin Assemi desperately sought to care for his father, eventually leading to a diagnosis of a brain tumor and cerebral degenerative ataxia.”
Kevin Assemi also claims that the older generation of Assemi businessmen were “desperate” to obtain additional loans “to prop up the brothers’ financial house of cards.”
Kevin Assemi claims his father and uncles “used threats to force Kevin’s signature” on documents to help the Elevated Ag receive a $500 million loan and deceived him “by blocking his access to information showing that Assemi Group, Inc.’s operations were severely distressed and near insolvency.”
Then, according to Kevin Assemi, the Assemi brothers misrepresented their stake in the Elevated company in an alleged effort to secure another $13 million loan to help the family make payments on the original $500 million loan. However, the second loan was blocked following a report of “suspected illegal activity.”
“This fraudulent conduct alleged in the complaint came as Kevin Assemi desperately attempted to care for his father,” Blyth said in the news release, “with one relative threatening to bar Kevin Assemi from speaking or interacting with his father if he did not assist with tender of his collateral for use to pay for the Assemi Brothers’ obligations.”
In a separate legal maneuver, Blyth also said Kevin Assemi is seeking “the removal of trustees to various Assemi Family trusts” to ensure financial stability for family beneficiaries and bring an end to the RICO-type activities and mitigate the damages and risk to others and the family.
In the news release late Tuesday, Blyth summed up the various allegations using bullet points.
●Fraud in the inducement
● Breach of contract
● Breach of the duty of care
● Negligent misrepresentation
● Misappropriation of trade secrets
● Unjust enrichment
● Conduct and Participation in a RICO enterprise through a pattern of Racketeering Activity
● Conspiracy to engage in a pattern of Racketeering Activity.
Read the full complaint filed last week by attorneys for Kevin Assemi.
From the KVPR editor: This story involves members of the Assemi family whose companies Maricopa Orchards, Central Distributing and Granville Homes are current or recent sponsors of KVPR.