A Dane County judge Tuesday rejected a request by the head of the Chicago company that owns Hilldale Shopping Center that he be protected from disclosing information about the company as part of a lawsuit that includes allegations of fraud.
Dane County Circuit Judge Peter Anderson ruled that if Larry Freed, president of Joseph Freed and Associates, which owns Hilldale, wants to decline to provide information sought by the UW Foundation, he'll have to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The foundation has sued the Hilldale Land Co., Freed and others for failing to make payments on the mall, which Freed bought in 2004. It has also alleged that the signatures of Freed's sister, Debra Ruderman, on a stock purchase agreement and two loan documents were forged after she denied having signed the papers.
At the request of the foundation, the state Department of Justice is investigating the allegation.
Freed's lawyers wanted to protect him from having to disclose information that might be used against him in a criminal probe.
In the UW Foundation action on Tuesday, foundation lawyer H. Dale Peterson told Anderson another Freed sibling has also claimed not to have signed loan documents that bear his signature.
At a deposition last week, Peterson said, Daniel Freed told him he did not sign the documents, but said he will not make that the basis for contesting the foundation's action against him as a defendant in the lawsuit.
It is not known yet who actually signed the documents in place of Ruderman or Daniel Freed, Peterson told Anderson.
"I believe there was more than one scoundrel that was involved in this deception," Peterson said in court.
Larry Freed's attorney, Ann Smith, said Freed is not saying whether or not he put Ruderman's signature on the documents. She said Freed agrees it's not his sister's signature.
"He doesn't dispute that she didn't sign it, but that someone was authorized to sign on her behalf," Smith said in court.
And in a related, anticipated action, Dane County Circuit Judge John Albert on Monday approved a second foreclosure action against the mall's owners. Bank of America had sought foreclosure of $50 million in loans to Hilldale. That follows the foreclosure in October of a $12.6 million loan made to Hilldale by TriSail Funding Corp., a Bank of America subsidiary.
Both loans are now in six-month redemption periods that give Hilldale a last chance to pay in full what it owes the bank or be sold. Under an agreement, Freed continues to manage the mall.