Three years after accusing his former business partner of endangering his life with “mob tactics,” former Mafia informant Salvatore Lauria has withdrawn a $5 million lawsuit, saying that he wants to “move on with (his) life” and disengage from the media scrutiny brought on by his ties to Donald Trump.
Lauria, who worked at Bayrock Group in the mid-2000s, sued Jody Kriss, now with East River Partners, for allegedly endangering his life with ongoing lawsuits against their former firm. Bayrock worked on a number of Trump projects, including Trump SoHo and Trump International in Fort Lauderdale.
In the suit, Kriss was accused of giving sealed court documents to a lawyer that represented the people that Lauria helped put in jail. This allegedly led to a beating for Lauria. In July 2012, a Mafia member supposedly beat up Lauria in broad daylight at a restaurant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. According to the lawsuit, the Mafia member told Lauria: “You’re dead… I did two years because of you.”
In spite of leveling explosive accusations against Kriss, Lauria was said to not have actively pursued his claim in court. Kriss said that Lauria “repeatedly and willfully failed to comply with court-ordered discovery deadlines.” He also supposedly did not appear for depositions, refused to provide the defense certain documents and failed to negotiate a confidentiality agreement, which he insisted on before appearing for a deposition.
Last March, New York Supreme Court Judge Erika Edwards ordered Lauria to respond to discovery requests by April 3 and appear for a deposition a month later. On the day of the deadline for responding to discovery requests, Lauria changed attorneys and filed for a 45-day extension on both deadlines. The court gave a seven-day extension and refused to extend the deposition deadline.
In an affidavit, Lauria said that he longer wanted to pursue the lawsuit because the pain that Kriss had supposedly caused has faded. Lauria added that he felt “vindicated” because two lawsuits that Kriss filed against him were dismissed with prejudice.
“When this action was commenced in 2014, the physical and emotional pain that I was feeling due to the actions of Mr. Kriss was fresher in my mind, and my desire to hold him accountable was stronger than it is now,” Lauria wrote. “My desire to hold him accountable is no longer strong enough to justify the continuing expense and other problems… that continued litigation would entail.”
He also said that he wanted to shield himself and his family from media scrutiny. “Since the election of Donald Trump, the swirling media attention surrounding cases involving Mr. Kriss and Bayrock Group LLC has only intensified, and I do not wish for my sworn statements in this case, or any other discovery materials of mine, to be exploited in the current media climate,” he said.
Kriss disparaged Lauria’s claims, saying that the purpose of the lawsuit from the beginning was to hurt his reputation.
“Obviously, it’s nonsense… I think that this was always a sham lawsuit,” he said. “He’s the plaintiff. He refused to litigate it because this was solely for defamatory purposes.”
Kriss is involved in several lawsuits. Since last October, Kriss has been sued by Bayrock’s Felix Sater and former NBA player Tate George. The allegations range from orchestrating a “billion dollar shakedown” to using his affiliation to Donald Trump to commit fraud.
Kriss accused Bayrock of orchestrating a “fake news campaign” designed to weaken his claim in a separate case. Kriss has been locked in a long-running racketeering lawsuit against his former employer. Last February, US District Court Judge Lorna Schofield struck down a court order that barred the dissemination of email evidence in the case. The emails were said to have implicated several law firms and Trump SoHo New York.
“This lawsuit is part of the fake news campaign against me because Sal Lauria made allegations in this complaint that are absolutely false. The purpose of this lawsuit was to generate headlines, not litigate it,” he said.