Philip Falcone’s onetime chef says the former hedge fund manager never paid him the $60,000 he agreed to in a settlement over alleged racist remarks.
The chef, Brian Villanueva, sued Falcone and his wife in federal court in New York last year, claiming they created a hostile work environment in which he was mocked for his Asian heritage with stereotypical accents and jokes about eating dogs. Villanueva is a Filipino.
The parties agreed to settle the case, but the Falcones have made no payment, claiming they don’t have the funds, Villanueva said in a new lawsuit, filed on Tuesday.
That claim “is simply not believable,” he said, noting that the Wall Street Journal reported last June that the Falcones had sold their Upper East Side townhouse for about $80 million, then a New York City record.
Falcone, the former head of Harbinger Capital Partners LLC, had no immediate comment on the lawsuit. A lawyer who represented him in the settled suit didn’t respond to a voicemail seeking comment. HC2 Holdings Inc., where Falcone is president and chief executive officer, didn’t respond to an email.
In the suit, Villanueva said he started working for the couple in January 2019 and earned $100,000 a year. He said he finally quit in July 2019 over offensive remarks about his girlfriend, who is black. She had come to help with a dinner party at the Falcones’ home in the Hamptons.
Falcone became a billionaire after betting against the U.S. housing market. Harbinger Capital was once one of the biggest hedge-fund firms, managing $26 billion at its peak in 2008.
Falcone was barred from the securities industry for at least five years as part of a 2013 settlement. U.S. regulators had accused him of improperly borrowing money from the fund to pay personal taxes and giving preferential treatment to some investors. Under the deal, he admitted no wrongdoing.
His current firm, HC2, owns companies in construction, energy, the life sciences, telecommunications and other industries, according to its website.
Falcone founded LightSquared in 2010 to offer high-speed wireless service. After the U.S. blocked it from using satellite airwaves for mobile phones, it ended up in bankruptcy court in 2012. In April the company, now known as Ligado Networks LLC, won approval from the Federal Communications Commission for a proposed broadband network, fulfilling Falcone’s vision.
— With assistance by Scott Moritz
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