Amiel Cueto seeks $45 million in punitive damages for busted ESL land deal

Ann Knef May 9, 2006, 9:58am

Disbarred Belleville lawyer Amiel Cueto is suing his business partners for not making good on a $5 million promise.

According to a lawsuit filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court May 2, Cueto was to sell 32 acres of riverfront property he owns in East St. Louis to investors of a $100 million stadium/hotel/shopping center project at Front Street and Missouri Avenue.

The deal unraveled on April 10 when Garry L. Jamieson and David V. Sims "had decided that certain oil and gas investments might be more lucrative than (this) project," according to the suit.

Cueto is representing himself in the case. He is seeking $5 million in compensatory damages; $45 million in punitive damages and $6,000 of advance money that he claims was stolen from him.

The defendants include Jamieson Enterprises, Jamieson Group Ventures, Foothill Financial, DVS Investments, as well as Jamieson and Sims individually. Another defendant, Larry Stricklin, is named as an agent of the Jamieson businesses.

According to the suit, Jamieson and Sims had access to $400 million in capital development funds that had to be committed "immediately to development projects such as the project on the East St. Louis Riverfront," the complaint states.

Cueto alleges that he and Jamieson and Sims agreed on March 16 that Cueto would receive 5 percent of the $100 million project in equity if the project was completed, or 5 percent in cash if the project was not completed.

Cueto claims he kept his end of the deal, including advancing $6,000 to Stricklin.

"After repeatedly lying about re-paying the $6,000 advance, the defendant named in this suit just stole the money from Amiel Cueto," the complaint states.

He also alleges that Jamieson tried to "swindle" $200,000 from him in a "side deal."

"On March 22, 2006, the defendant named in this count, by or through Garry L. Jamieson, tried to swindle Amiel Cueto out of $200,000 by calling Amiel Cueto and reporting that Jamieson and Sims had stayed up all night putting together a plan to expedite the project; and that Jamieson and Sims requested in a 'side deal' that Amiel Cueto send them $200,000 to be refunded in nine days, and that way (Jamieson claimed), Amiel Cueto would get his $10,000,000 land-sale price all the faster. (Amiel Cueto didn't send the $200,000 for the 'side deal')," the complaint states.

Cueto claims the defendants only partially kept up their end of the bargain in a deal that should have closed no later than April 30.

"On March 17, 2006...Amiel Cueto was sent a package of documents (some on CD Rom), which partially described and which supported and ratified the contract," the complaint states.

The suit claims fraud and breach of contract.

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