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February 20, 2017

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Trump sues developer over Seminole Hard Rock casino

MIAMI -- Donald Trump has sued a former associate and the developers of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, claiming they cheated him out of a profitable contract.

Trump accused Richard T. Fields of lying to him when Fields advised him to abandon the deal that Trump had been cultivating with the Seminole Tribe of Florida for three years, according to the suit.

Then Fields banded with Baltimore-based Cordish Co. and, the lawsuit said, they fraudulently represented themselves as Trump associates to land the deal.

The suit, filed Dec. 30 in circuit court in Broward County, charges Fields with fraud, misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty.

"As public records clearly show, Mr. Trump voluntarily abandoned this project and the tribe years ago," said Fields' spokesman, Howard Wolfson. "Sadly Mr. Trump now believes he can use the courts to work himself back into a successful deal by defaming, making false claims and insulting the tribe he walked away from."

Wolfson said counter claims were being prepared.

Also named in the suit are Cordish Co. officials David S. Cordish and Joseph Weinberg and several related companies owned by Cordish and Fields.

All defendants were charged with civil conspiracy, violating the Florida deceptive and unfair trade practices act and interference with a prospective business relationship.

David Cordish hasn't yet been served with the suit, which seeks unspecified damages, and was out of the country Thursday, but his company issued a statement.

"The plaintiff's lawsuit is a ludicrous work of fiction," the statement said. "The defendants will not only completely prevail in the litigation, but will also recover substantial damages against Donald Trump."

Trump met Fields in 1993 when he was a talent agent Trump's now-ex wife Marla Maples, the lawsuit said. Fields became a Trump associate by 1995, and the next year they flew to the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation to meet with James Billie, then chairman of the Seminoles, according to the suit.

Billie expressed interest in working with Trump, and Fields continued working on a possible deal for about three years, when Fields advised Trump that the tribe was no longer interested, the suit said.

Fields and Trump terminated their relationship in 1999, but the suit alleges that Fields continued to contact the Seminoles, "misleading them into believing that he still represented Trump."

Fields then began working with Cordish, whose subsidiaries in 2000 entered a contract to develop hotel and casino sites in Hollywood and Tampa, the suit said.

Trump learned of Fields' involvement during a groundbreaking ceremony in January 2001, according to the suit.

The tribe declined to comment because it wasn't named in the suit.

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