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September 18, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Families fight over control of Westchester Center for Rehab

Two families – fathers and sons – have been fighting for control of Westchester Center for Rehabilitation & Nursing, according to a lawsuit.

Jonathan Bleier, who with his father, Robert, bought Westchester Center in 2010, sued Bruce Peckman and his son, Joshua, for $2 million this month in Westchester Supreme Court.

Jonathan Bleier claims that the Peckmans have interfered with management of the Mount Vernon nursing home and mishandled corporate documents, “with the intent to unlawfully steal a portion” of his membership interest.

Attempts to reach the Peckmans for their side of the story were unsuccessful.

The Bleiers hired Bruce Peckman in 2006 to help run a nursing home in Great Neck. When the Bleiers bought Westchester Center, they brought him in to co-manage the facility. Peckman hired his son as an assistant administrator.

Westchester Center is a 240-bed skilled nursing home next to the Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven line tracks in central Mount Vernon.

The dispute is about control of Parkview Operating Co. LLC, the licensed operator of the nursing home, and Westchester Gardens Realty LLC, owner of the property and premises.

The Bleier family, including Henry Halpert, controlled 70 percent of Parkview. The Peckman’s controlled 23 percent.

But the operating agreement required a 75 percent supermajority to approve key decisions. The Bleiers needed the support of minority members Moshe and Tovah Bain in order to reach 75 percent. The Peckmans needed the support of only one of the Bains to veto key actions.

The lawsuit accuses Bruce Peckman of manipulating membership records to tip the balance.

Robert Bleier transferred his interest in Parkview to Jonathan in 2012 after he failed the character and competency requirement on his state Department of Health application. His failure, according to the complaint, was “due to a preexisting violation” that is not described in the lawsuit.

The transfer gave Jonathan Bleier 47 percent control of Parkview. But when the operating agreement was amended, the complaint states, Jonathan’s interest was listed at five percentage points lower and Bruce Peckman’s interest was increased by five percentage points.

The discrepancy was discovered in 2015. Bruce Peckman transferred back a portion of his interest to Jonathan, and the members agreed to change the supermajorty to 72 percent in order to maintain the intended balance of power.

But Bruce Peckman allegedly prevented the operating agreement from being changed. The Bleier family controlled nearly 65 percent of Parkview, but it needed support from the Bains and at least one of the Peckmans to achieve a 75 percent supermajority.

The lawsuit also claims that the Peckmans have risked the nursing home’s license and financing by failing to submit documents that show changes in ownership to state and federal regulatory agencies and banks.

In 2016, the members borrowed $32.5 million from Bank of America. Nearly $14.6 million was to be distributed according to their proportional ownership in Westchester Gardens Realty.

But a 2018 audit, the complaint states, found that Jonathan Bleier was underpaid by more than $1.3 million “due to willful and intentional actions by Bruce Peckman.”

This year, Joshua Peckman allegedly transferred $108,000 to his JSP Management LLC. That triggered a mandatory buyout, under the operating agreement, for “involuntary withdrawal.”

Parkview members kicked Joshua Peckman out of management and offered him a $2.8 million buyout. Peckman’s attorney, the complaint states, returned a $50,000 down payment.

Jonathan Bleier is asking the court to award damages, ranging from $108,000 for allegedly transferring money improperly to JSP Management, to $2 million for alleged breach of fiduciary duty by Bruce Peckman.

David Scharf and Mark S. Jarashow of Morrison Cohen LLP in Manhattan represent Jonathan Bleier and Parkview.

Alfred E. Donnellan and Nelida Lara of DelBello Donnellan Weingarten Wise & Wiederkehr LLP in White Plains represent Westchester Gardens.