Kevin Assemi is suing the family in a battle over the Assemi Group business

What’s at stake?

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.”

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, an attorney, businessman and son of Assemi Group CEO Farid Assemi, filed the lawsuit 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 suit, Kevin Assemi was granted control of a new Assemi 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.

News of the lawsuit comes just days after the Assemi family won $38 million in damages following a lengthy legal battle with agricultural giant Stuart Resnick.

The Assemis are power brokers in more than just local agriculture. Darius Assemi is the CEO of a major development company, Granville Homes. He is also the publisher of local news site GV Wire.

They also have a hand in healthcare. Fareed Assemi was the focus of a Fresno Bee investigation in August 2022 related to his role at the time as chairman of the board of the Fresno area’s largest provider, Community Health System.

The investigation found that Community Health System, under the leadership of Farid Assemi and other board members, used state and federal dollars intended to offset the cost of care for indigent patients in downtown Fresno and instead used them to expand the hospital in Clovis worth $1 billion.

The Bee also found that the diversion of funds to Clovis may have helped Farid Assemi’s for-profit medical school, California Health Sciences University, located less than a mile from Clovis Hospital.

Farid Assemi stepped down from his role as Community Health System’s board chairman in April. Kevin Assemi is a member of the board of directors of the Westlands Water District, which makes decisions about water use in western Fresno and Kings counties.

Read the full complaint filed last week by Kevin Assemi’s attorneys.

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