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Sports Authority Hires Pricey Law Firm to Investigate Wilfs | News

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Sports Authority Hires Pricey Law Firm to Investigate Wilfs

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority decided this week to hire one of Minnesota's most expensive law firms and an international forensic accounting firm for extra "due diligence" on the Vikings stadium deal.

It will also include extensive background checks on Zygi and Mark Wilf and the family real estate business. It's all part of the fallout of a New Jersey judge finding the Wilfs committed fraud and violated that state's civil racketeering laws. "We aren't certain at this point what the cost will be," says Michele Kelm-Helgen, the chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. 

Dorsey and Whitney, the firm hired to do extra legal work, is one of the most expensive law firms in the Twin Cities. One legal expert we talked to tells 5 Eyewitness News he'd be surprised if the legal work alone doesn't cost at least $400 to $500 per hour. He also says it could end up costing in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. That would be on top of the cost of hiring FTC Consulting, a forensic accounting firm.

Kelm-Helgen says it's unlikely Minnesota taxpayers will foot the bill for the extra legal and accounting work. "The normal due diligence that would have to be done for the project anyway clearly will be a cost to the project," she says. "Anything over and above that we plan to bill the Vikings organization and/or the Wilfs."

Stadium bill author Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) says she supports the moves by the authority and their plans to bill the Wilfs. "I wish this is something we didn't have to deal with right now, but it is. So perhaps the Vikings, the Wilfs will have to come up with the money." 

Rosen also co-chairs the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Sports Facilities that was created by the Vikings stadium bill. The commission will meet Sept. 10 to review the latest developments.

In the short-term, the Aug. 23 target date for finalizing a lease agreement with the Wilfs has been postponed until an unspecified later date. 

The extra review of the deal is expected to last at least a few weeks.


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