Hedge Fund Manager Suffers Setbacks In Dakota Lawsuit

May 31 2013 | 11:32am ET

Things aren't going well for Fletcher Asset Management's Alphonse Fletcher in his battle with his apartment building.

The hedge fund manager sued the storied Dakota Apartments in 2011, alleging that the co-op's board discriminated against him because he is black. The board had rejected Fletcher's bid to buy a second apartment in the building, best known as the former home of the Beatles' John Lennon and the site of his murder.

But Fletcher's cause, already burdened by his battle with three Louisiana pension funds, has taken several more hits recently.

This week, the Dakota's lawyers told a judge that Fletcher failed to follow through on a $4.5 million pledge to Harvard University. Fletcher called the promise "non-binding" and said that the Dakota's allegation is the equivalent of defamation. But he failed to present any evidence that it was non-binding, and the Dakota's lawyer said that Harvard disputes Fletcher's claim.

The judge overseeing the case last week rejected another defamation claim. Fletcher had alleged that the Dakota's statements about Fletcher's financial problems—the reason it claims it rejected his attempt to buy the apartment—hurt his relationship with his investors and frightened off some prospective clients, but Justice Eileen Rakower ruled that he had missed several disclosure deadlines to identify the investors in question.

And the Internal Revenue Service has now given the Dakota some more ammunition for the claim: a $1.4 million tax lien against Fletcher's properties, stemming from unpaid back taxes in 2010—the year the Dakota rejected Fletcher's application to buy the $5.7 million apartment.

The lien was filed last month, nearly a year after the back taxes were calculated.

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