Yves Jean-Baptiste bought Rapid Realty in 2018, but now says the former owner Anthony Lolli actually used the deal to pawn off a failing business.

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The owner of Rapid Realty, a rental brokerage in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, is suing the company’s former owner for what he claims is fraud.

Yves Jean-Baptiste

Yves Jean-Baptiste filed the lawsuit in New York Monday, saying that Rapid Realty’s founder and former owner Anthony Lolli failed to disclose critical information and induced him to buy the company “under false pretenses.” It also accuses Lolli of “outright misappropriation, embezzlement and improper use of” Jean-Baptiste’s funds.

The suit additionally names as defendants other former Rapid Realty executives and seeks more than $80 million in damages.

News of the lawsuit was first reported by The Real Deal, which has also covered an earlier civil racketeering case against Rapid Realty from a Florida lender with which the company worked.

Lolli and attorneys for Jean-Baptiste did not immediately respond to Inman’s request for comment Thursday.

The complaint in Jean-Baptiste’s lawsuit runs more than 60 pages and explains that he first struck up a relationship with Lolli in 2017 after using Rapid Realty to market some of his investment properties. Eventually, Jean-Baptiste mentioned wanting to open a real estate office, the complaint reads. Lolli and another company leader then reportedly responded by suggesting Jean-Baptiste instead by Rapid Realty’s headquarters and an associated franchise.

Anthony Lolli

However, the complaint alleges that Rapid Realty’s registration with the Office of the New York State Attorney General had lapsed in 2016, meaning the company was not allowed to sell franchises at the time. Jean-Baptiste claims in the suit that “at no time” did anyone from the company mention that they couldn’t legally sell him a franchise.

The suit also claims that Jean-Baptiste received “falsified financial documents purporting to show that Rapid Group was substantially more profitable and had significantly higher earnings than Rapid Group had at all relevant times.”

The complaint includes other allegations as well. Among them, Jean-Baptiste says company leaders lied about a competing offer for the company, hid potential lawsuits against the firm and that he was denied a chance to have his own lawyers review the deal.

“As part of their deceptive sales pitch, Lolli and [Lolli’s business associate Marco] Santiago advised Plaintiff that Rapid Group’s franchise business was on the brink of reaching ‘new heights’ — albeit bearing full knowledge of Rapid Group’s waning stream of revenue and royalties,” the complaint adds. “After it was too late, it became apparent that the Rapid Group deal was a fraudulent vehicle for Lolli and such other and further Rapid Group principals, members, agents and/or representatives to pawn their failing business ventures, investments, and liabilities onto Plaintiff without disclosing their special knowledge of Rapid Group’s ongoing demise.”

The alleged turmoil Jean-Baptiste describes in the suit appears to have taken a toll on the company. As of Thursday, it did not have a functioning website and Wikipedia claims (without a citation) that it is no longer in operation. The Real Deal also reported that after achieving the largest headcount for a company of its kind in Brooklyn in 2014, with more than 400 agents, it had shrunk to 99 agents by the end of 2018. The outlet further reported this week that Rapid Realty’s phone number had been disconnected.

However, Jean-Baptiste’s LinkedIn page still lists his job as president of Rapid Realty.

The suit ultimately includes nine “causes of action” or separate allegations that each includes demands for compensation. No court date has been set, nor has Lolli filed a response.

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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