Excavation contractor alleges Equinox founder cheated his business out of $4.5 million: Court filings

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39 Washington Ave.
The 39 Washington Avenue site in Plessantville (Google Street View)

A construction company and its owner asserts that a sibling co-founder of Equinox cheated it out of nearly $4.5 million in two Westchester development projects, The New York Post reports, citing court filings.

Documents filed in a lawsuit assert that Vito Errico hired DiPietro Construction Corp. owned by Gioncondo “Jack” DiPietro, to excavate the sites on two Pleasantville projects in 2017 and 2018. Errico had founded the Equinox gym chain with siblings Lavinia and Danny in the early 1990s.

“Errico convinced DiPietro to forgo regular pay — and instead accept equity in both of the new buildings — after he was paid the bare cost of labor and provided his own equipment for free, the papers said,” the Post reported.

In contrast, the filings assert that on PiPietro’s first subcontractor job for Errico in 2016 — at his 12,000 sq ft. Armonk home —  “he charged $1,500 for an eight-hour day for the cost of using one of his excavators and the cost of hiring an operator for the machine,” the Post reports, citing court filings.

The special reduced prices started in 2017 on a site at 39 Washington Ave. in Pleasantville, intended to be a mixed residential and retail building. A year later, DiPietro worked under the same structure for a residential project at 70 Memorial Pl., according to the court filings.

Errico “knew he would never honor his end of the deal and instead planned on taking advantage of DiPietro by getting the value of the labor at less than true cost and the machinery for free and similarly not paying or transferring the equity,” the court papers allege.

“Errico took a page out of the unscrupulous developer’s playbook, which essentially states ‘I am so big, go ahead and sue me and I will drown you in legal costs.’ That is exactly what Errico is doing in this case,” the suit charges, the Post reports.

Errico “uses his success to overwhelm, impress, take advantage of and really push around regular people who would like to believe that Errico is an honest businessman with good intentions, which as this case shows, is not true,” the suit alleges.

There are two separate lawsuits. DiPietro asserts he is owed more than $1 million for the Washington Avenue project, and $3.5 million for the work at Memorial Plaza.

“The complaints detail a pattern of deceit and broken promises made to my client,” DiPietro’s lawyer Eric Grayson told The Post. “I believe the jury will see right through the defendant and hold for my client.”

However, Errico’s lawyer Stephen Meister told The Post: “Mr. DiPietro was forced to amend his complaint by the court.

“He still has it wrong. We expect the court to find that Mr. DiPietro’s claims are meritless.”

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