A new lawsuit in Fresno pits father against son in a battle for control of the Assemi family business

Fresno County Courthouse. Google Street View photo

This story was originally published by Fresnoland, a nonprofit news organization.

The son of one of Fresno’s wealthiest and most politically powerful families is suing his father and uncles, accusing them of fraud, mismanagement and a “pattern of racketeering.”

Kevin Assemi, attorney, businessman and son of Assemi Group CEO Farid Assemi, filed the suit Dec. 15 in Fresno County Superior Court.

The lawsuit names brothers Farid, Farshid and Darius Assemi as defendants, as well as Assemi Group, Inc. and several of the company’s subsidiaries, employees and associates. It cited more than two dozen causes of action, including “repeated financial fraud involving members of their extended family, lenders and businesses.”

Assemi Group representatives could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

In a news release Tuesday night, Stan Blythe, the Fresno attorney representing Kevin Assemi, said the legal battle has been brewing since at least 2019, when Kevin Assemi was forced out of the family’s primary agricultural company, Maricopa Orchards.

According to the lawsuit, Kevin Assemi was granted control of Assemi’s new company, Elevated Ag., LLC, “- which was promised — but did not receive — the full level of funding from Assemi’s entities and business partners.”

“The roots of this suspension came when Farid Assemi, the CEO of Assemi Group, Inc., began to exhibit unusual, irrational behavior that affected his ability to manage the firm,” Blythe said in the statement. “As this behavior continued, Kevin Assemi struggled desperately to care for his father, which eventually led to a diagnosis of a brain tumor and cerebral degenerative ataxia.”

Kevin Assemi also claimed that the older generation of Assemi businessmen were “desperate” to obtain additional loans “to prop up the brothers’ financial house of cards”.

Kevin Assemi claims his father and uncles “used threats to force Kevin’s signature” on documents to help Elevated Ag get a $500 million loan and defrauded him “by blocking his access to information , indicating that the operations of Assemi Group, Inc. were seriously troubled and close to insolvency.

Then, according to Kevin Assemi, the Assemi brothers misrepresented their stake in Elevated in an alleged attempt to secure another $13 million loan to help the family make payments on the original $500 million loan. However, the second loan was blocked after a report of “suspected illegal activity”.

“This fraudulent behavior alleged in the complaint came as Kevin Assemi was desperately trying to care for his father,” Blythe said in the news release, “with a relative threatening to forbid Kevin Assemi from speaking or communicating with his father , if he does not help auction his security to be used to pay the debts of the Assemi brothers.

In a separate legal maneuver, Blythe also said Kevin Assemi is seeking “the removal of the trustees of various Assemi family trusts” to ensure financial stability for family beneficiaries and to end RICO-type activities and reduce damages and the risk to others and family.

In a news release late Tuesday, Blythe summarized the various allegations using bullet points.

●Deception in motivation

● Breach of contract

● Breach of duty of care

● Negligently misleading

● Misappropriation of trade secrets

● Unjust enrichment

● Abuse

● Conversion

● Conduct and participation in a RICO enterprise through a pattern of racketeering

● Conspiracy to engage in a pattern of racketeering.

The news of the case comes just days after the Assemi family won $38 million in damages after a prolonged legal battle with agricultural giant Stuart Resnick.

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