By Chuck Strouse
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By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
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Bryan Abboud was dining among the stars that weekend in July 2006. There were last-minute reservations at celeb-heavy Spago Beverly Hills. Chef Wolfgang Puck even passed by their table. Names like Anna Nicole Smith, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and French bombshell Lydie Denier swirled around his dinner companion, movie producer David Dadon.
Then Dadon handed over a box of Cohiba Esplendidos cigars.
Abboud, a dashing Coconut Grove businessman in his midthirties and father of three, was nearly ready to consecrate a deal worth $800,000 or more with Dadon. But Dadon didn't follow through, according to Abboud, so a few months later he filed suit.
"Dadon's next calling is to write Con Man for Dummies," Abboud contends. "Although he's no dummy."
Indeed after months of legal wrangling, Miami-Dade Special Magistrate Alan Postman wrote in August 2007 about the dispute between Abboud and Dadon: "This appears to be another in a long line of cases involving David Dadon, wherein he has attempted wrongfully to acquire public corporations, attempted to take investors' money, attempted to falsely accuse others, and has had his testimony rejected by the courts of this nation."
Dadon, who is 56 years old, responds, "The only person who has done wrong is Bryan Abboud. Bryan Abboud knows how to beat the system.... The court gives him the keys to steal."
He declines further comment, but the public record is replete with information about David Dadon and his son Jacob, who was also involved in the dispute. David has been involved in at least 20 lawsuits in three states and Canada since 2001, records show. Jacob recently filed for bankruptcy in California, listing $1,850 in assets while owing $1.58 million to creditors. Seven social security numbers and three aliases are linked to David Dadon and the family's $1.38 million, five-bedroom house in the San Fernando Valley.
If Newsweek is to be trusted, Dadon's ties to the Hollywood film industry date back at least 16 years. After starlet Anna Nicole Smith's recent death in South Florida, Dadon told the magazine he had taken her to her "first restaurant in Los Angeles" in 1992. "Everyone said she was a bimbo and this made her increasingly depressed," he was quoted as saying. "She never had any real friends."
In May 2000, Dadon made another splash when he told Variety he had launched the movie production company Giants Entertainment with $100 million of his own money after selling a sportswear firm for seven figures. At the time, he boasted of his connections with the famous. "[I] can call any star at home," he said. Dadon's company brought 17 titles to the Cannes Film Festival, the article says. One of them was Very Mean Men, which listed Dadon as one of three producers.
A month later, Variety called Very Mean Men "the funniest crime caper to come down the pike since Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." Dadon deemed it the "best movie I ever made."
It's unclear if the film was ever released in U.S. theaters, and a copy can't be found on Amazon.com.
Over the next few years, Dadon was involved in a slew of legal battles that led up to his showdown with Abboud:
• Reel Good, Inc., a California company, sued Dadon and his company in January 2000 for ordering film stock and not paying for it. Dadon countersued, alleging the product was substandard. The case was dismissed at Dadon's request.
• In July 2000, Dadon's firm, Giants, sued starlet Denier, who played Jane in a 1990s Tarzan TV series and appeared on Baywatch, claiming she walked off a movie set. Denier produced answering-machine messages showing she was told not to come back, and Dadon dropped the suit.
• In August of the same year, Dadon sued Van Damme, contending the chiseled martial arts expert snubbed him on a promised producer credit. By January, a judge threw out the suit.
• In May 2001, attorney Tristram Buckley sued Dadon for contractual fraud. The dispute noted "a great deal of time" the attorney allegedly spent pulling Daily Variety from newsstands because of a story about Dadon that the producer claimed was false. (A judge ruled in favor of Buckley in May 2006 and awarded him $76,354 in damages.)
Buckley says Dadon told him he was a driver for Golda Meir, the former prime minister of Israel. "He was so over-the-top," Buckley says. "He did sell movies, but he never made his money back from his movies."
Over the next few years, there were more lawsuits:
• In February 2002, armed federal marshals stormed Dadon's company suite in Santa Monica to seize digital masters of two films after an independent director claimed Dadon infringed upon the copyright. The case was settled a year later under unknown circumstances.
• In a July 2003 case, Viastar Holdings sued Dadon to block him from representing himself as part of the company. "It's time that his tactics are stopped," said Viastar president John Aquilino. (The judge temporarily halted Dadon from acting on the company's behalf, and the two sides reached a settlement in May 2004.)
• In December of that year, Hairmax International, a Fort Lauderdale-based salon and hair product firm, sued Dadon for $5 million in Fort Lauderdale, alleging he failed to deliver the agreed-upon rights to an action flick called Revenge Games. A judge dismissed the case in October 2004. Cheryl Picariello, a notary involved in the case, says Dadon demanded documents from her, claiming he was an FBI agent, according to court records. "It's the worst experience I've had," she contends. "He said he would make trouble for me and my business."