The lawyer for the man who alleges that Ahmed Zayat has not paid a $2 million gambling debt filed a $10 million libel suit Monday against Zayat, the owner of American Pharoah.
Joseph Bainton, the lawyer for Howard Rubinsky, said Zayat maliciously defamed him when he told reporters that the original lawsuit was “extortion, a fraud and blackmail.”
In the complaint, Bainton refers to articles in The New York Daily News, The Associated Press and outlets as far away as The Daily Mail in London, in which Zayat had characterized Rubinsky’s suit as complete “fiction.” Bainton also references an Observer.com article on May 23, in which Zayat commented on the timing of the lawsuit.
“It’s a fraud,” Zayat told The Associated Press. “It’s a scam from A to Z. It’s total fiction. It’s a total lie.”
Bainton’s complaint also refers to an Observer.com article on May 23, in which Zayat suggests that the timing of the lawsuit was to capitalize on the success and notoriety of American Pharoah after the colt won the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
Rubinsky’s lawsuit, however, was filed in March 2014, the complaint states, months before American Pharoah ran his first race.
“The blatant and knowing lie was made to lend credence to his knowingly false claim that the breach of contract action was a fraud and a product of insanity,” the complaint said.
The breach of contract suit was filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, as was Bainton’s libel suit.
In the first, Rubinsky, 58, who pleaded guilty in 2008 for his role in an illegal bookmaking operation, said he had opened a $3 million line of credit for Zayat at Tradewinds Sportsbook in Costa Rica.
When Zayat lost $2 million and refused to pay, Rubinsky said that his commissions were withheld and that he had personally lost $1.65 million plus interest, according to the documents.
Judge William Martini is expected to rule on a request by Zayat’s lawyers to dismiss Rubinsky’s lawsuit in the coming weeks.
Zayat was not immediately available to comment, but his lawyer, Joseph Vann, said in a statement, “We believe the lawsuit filed against our client today has no legal merit, we expect it will be thrown out by the court, and our client intends to file a malicious prosecution action after we prevail if warranted.”
“I don’t like being called a liar,” Bainton said Monday in a phone interview. “I have earned a very good reputation as a lawyer. I don’t cotton to being called a criminal. I think it’s finally time for Zayat to be held in account for his conduct.”