The owners of the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay and the Four Seasons in East Palo Alto are calling for grant deeds they say falsely laid claim to the titles of their luxury hotel properties in San Mateo County to be deemed void in a lawsuit filed in San Mateo County Superior Court this week.
Represented by the firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, the hotel owners are alleging an individual named Daniil Belitskiy recorded false grant deeds claiming to transfer the titles of six properties owned by Strategic Hotels & Resorts to shell companies with similar names. They are looking to bar Belitskiy and anyone affiliated with the alleged shell companies from selling or transferring the properties, according to the suit filed in San Mateo County Superior Court Sept. 9.
Belitskiy was allegedly tied to each of the six instances in which false grant deeds were recorded — including properties in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Orange counties — and the alleged shell companies used in the false grant deeds were deliberately given names similar to those of Strategic Hotels & Resorts’ subsidiaries to avoid detection, according to the suit.
Benjamin Wagner, partner with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, noted the defendants named in the suit have no connection with the hotel owners.
“The defendants in this case have no connection to the owners of these hotels, and are simply shell companies that filed fraudulent deeds purporting to transfer title to the properties,” he said. “We have filed this quiet title action on behalf of the rightful owners of these properties simply to ask the court to clear title.”
According to the suit, the subsidiaries of Strategic Hotels & Resorts own several luxury hotel properties across the country and the subsidiaries typically own the real property and improvements for each hotel. In August of 2004, Vestar-Athens/YCP II Half Moon Bay executed a grant deed transferring ownership in the Ritz-Carlton to SHC Half Moon Bay, a document that was recorded with the San Mateo County clerk-recorder five days later, according to the suit.
On Sept. 5, 2018, Belitskiy allegedly executed a grant deed purporting to transfer SHC Half Moon Bay’s ownership interest in the Ritz-Carlton to SHC Group and AB Stable Group. In the deed, Belitskiy allegedly claimed to be vice president of SHC Group, which was portrayed as both the grantor and one of the grantees. Punambhai Patel, a notary in San Francisco, allegedly notarized the grant deed, and SHC Group and AB Stable Group intentionally recorded the grant deed with the San Mateo County clerk-recorder Sept. 19, 2018, knowing it was false, according to the suit.
In March of 2011, East Palo Alto Hotel Development executed a grant deed transferring its ownership in the Four Seasons to SHR Palo Alto, a document recorded four days later with the San Mateo County clerk-recorder. On Oct. 10, 2018, Belitskiy allegedly executed a false grant deed describing SHR Group and AB Stable Group as the grantors and the grantees and Patel allegedly notarized this alleged false grant deed as well. SHR Group and AB Stable Group intentionally recorded the grant deed with the San Mateo County clerk-recorder Oct. 12, 2018, knowing it was false, according to the suit.
According to the suit, the hotel owners didn’t discover the existence of the alleged false grant deeds until May 12, 2019, and four of Strategic Hotels & Resorts’ subsidiaries are simultaneously filing actions in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Orange counties to quiet title to the other four properties that were the subject of similar false grant deeds.
In the suit, SHC Half Moon Bay and SHR Palo Alto are calling for a declaration that they are the sole rightful title holder of the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay and Four Seasons in East Palo Alto, respectively. They are also asking for an injunction preventing SHC Group, SHR Group and AB Stable Group and any affiliates of those groups from selling or transferring the properties.
Belitskiy could not be reached for comment on this story.
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