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A prominent PI firm was so eager to keep the cash coming in from rich clients, it turned a blind eye to its private eyes acting “like drunken fraternity brothers,” a new lawsuit charges.
Dan Ribacoff, a polygraph expert who bills himself as one of the top private investigators in the country and has appeared on TV shows like “Impractical Jokers” and “The Steve Wilkos Show,” displayed “willful ignorance” and took no action as the gumshoes who worked for him went rogue, according to the $10 million claim.
Ribacoff’s Long Island-based International Investigative Group exchanged thousands of text messages with underlings, encouraging them to double bill and pad hours to run up the tab for wealthy clients like Patty Hearst’s granddaughter Gillian Hearst and ice cream company heir David Smith, according to court papers.
Smith hired IIG in 2018 to surveil his then-estranged wife, Susanne Gold-Smith, as they went through a divorce battle, ultimately shelling out $9 million to the firm. The couple later reconciled. Multiple IIG investigators sexually assaulted her while she was intoxicated, Gold-Smith has alleged in court papers. The investigators have denied the allegations.
Her latest lawsuit accuses IIG of knowingly letting its private eyes run wild: going to strip clubs, using drugs on the job, “frequent[ing] prostitutes” and “essentially behaving like a bunch of drunken fraternity brothers on spring break,” according to the Nassau Supreme Court papers.
Ribacoff and his family “could have and should have intervened to save [Gold-Smith] from the bad acts of their investigators; instead, they permitted crimes to occur first, so they could line their own pockets,” she claims in the litigation.
The firm “should not be operating as a state-licensed private investigative entity,” Gold-Smith charges in court papers.
“While the Ribacoffs may have looked at Susanne’s investigation as just another payday, our client will have to pay for their greed for the rest of her life” said Gold-Smith’s lawyer
Ribacoff slammed the allegations as “nonsense.” Ribacoff’s attorney, Michael Cassell, insisted the new case is nothing more than “a rehash” of previous allegations Gold-Smith made in a prior lawsuit against the firm which was dismissed by a judge.
“Gold-Smith’s failure to mention any of these allegations in the prior lawsuit, in the face of a motion to dismiss, speaks volumes about their lack of veracity and confirms that they are pure fiction. IIG is confident that this action, just like Gold-Smith’s prior action, will be dismissed,” Cassell said.
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