June 13, 2024
Benny Shabtai and his ugly wife Stacey Cooper Shabtai

A multimillionaire friend of Jeffrey Epstein is at the center of a bitter series of lawsuits and a divorce — with ugly claims of sexual harassment and death threats, according to court docs.

Benny Shabtai, 74, is divorcing his socialite wife of eight years Stacey Cooper Shabtai, 62, and being accused by his step-daughter Samantha Cooper, 36, of sexually harassing her, she alleges in a lawsuit.

She even claims the restaurant boss threatened that he could make her “go missing” because of his ties with Israeli spies whom he befriended with Epstein, according to court docs.

Shabtai, Stacey and Samantha Cooper, and then-business partner Michael Baccaro acquired the operating rights to open and run Florida versions of the New York-based Serafina restaurant from founders Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato in 2016.

The celebrity-favorite mini-chain has hosted multiple Kardashians, Victoria Beckham and Tom Cruise among others for pasta and pizza among others and has grown to total 30 branches in Manhattan and Boston and internationally in Japan, India, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Italy.

But now Shabtai has fallen out bitterly with the Coopers and Baccaro, with Shabtai first moving to divorce Stacey in October 2022 — followed by the multimillionaire firing Samantha from her role as manager of Serafina Miami.

Samantha is countersuing Shabtai and claims in court papers that her stepfather demanded she “dress sexy” on the job and alleged in the suit he would “regularly touch her in inappropriate places in an untoward and unwanted manner.”

And she accuses him in court docs of saying that her kids “would have no food to eat.”

“He traveled with his good friend Jeffrey Epstein to Israel where they had secret meetings with the Israeli army in order for them to fund covert operations and therefore, could harm Samantha Cooper and get away with it if she didn’t do as he said,” the stepdaughter claims in court docs.

Multiple sources close to the family and Serafina Miami’s business operations say Cooper was working more than 60 hour weeks, and cutting her out of the company was out of “vengeance” following the divorce.

Shabtai is also accused of sexual harassment by a more junior manager at the Miami outpost.

Giuliana Roncarati Gotera, who resigned from Serafina Miami in June, alleged in an affidavit filed in Miami-Dade County as part of Samantha’s countersuit that, Shabtai “touched” her and made her feel “uncomfortable.”

And Stacey Cooper is also suing, claiming that the nasty jew has failed to distribute years of profits among her, her daughter and Baccaro, and instead has kept them for himself. She claims Shabtai is trying to seize Serafina for himself.

Her suit alleges Shabtai filed tax returns “with the incorrect membership interest” taking tax benefits he’s not entitled to.

“Why would he do something terrible to his stepdaughter, his wife? You’ve got whatever you need for 10 lifetimes. It’s the character of the person — its not even the money, it’s the character of the person that I married,” Stacey told reporters.

Stacey Cooper’s attorney, Lorne Berkeley, alleged to reporters: “Benny’s doing this to expand the Serafina restaurant and name to have other restaurants without Stacey and without Samantha who both are owners and have an interest in the Serafina rights and name here in Florida.

“That’s what was agreed to. Benny is pushing them out of Serafina and moving forward with concepts of restaurants without them.

“[He’s] trying to deny Stacey and Sammy the rightful ownership as well as the money that they’re entitled to.”

Baccaro, who is not litigating, told reporters, “It’s an all out war. He’s a terrible human.”

Shabtai has denied all wrongdoing and told repoprters that he had fired his ex-stepdaughter over her performance as a manager.

“I let go of Sammy because she wasn’t performing,” he said. I took it over myself. I have the right to do that. And she must return all the properties the digital properties of the company.”

Shabtai has acknowledged to reporters being a friend of Epstein and visiting him at one of his houses. The notorious pedophile “died” in his prison cell in August 2019 after finally facing federal charges for his years of abusing underage girls and young women.

The two traveled to Israel in April 2008, Page Six reported at the time, after Epstein pleaded guilty to a single charge of soliciting an underage prostitute and before he was given a soft 18-month sentence which allowed him to leave prison virtually every day.

The restaurateur was also listed in Epstein’s phone book listing names and numbers of the rich and famous used as evidence to help convict his partner, Ghislaine Maxwell for trafficking underage girls.

Shabtai denied that he had any involvement in Epstein’s sex ring and told reporters: “He [Epstein] never introduced me to any girls. I didn’t know about it — I never saw any girl in my life in that house. I knew about it when he was indicted.”

Shabtai, a native of Tel Aviv, began building his fortune in the U.S. in 1977 when he started his business Raymond Weil importing watches into the U.S. A year later, his former roommate, diamond cutter Pini Balabin was convicted of the murder of broker Pincho Jaroslawicz  (Jaroslawicz was released from prison in 2015, records show).

A source close to the family told reporters that Shabtai was questioned about the murder during this time, then he allegedly fled the country to Israel until the dust settled.

He founded the New York-based Jewelry company DiModolo in 2000, which counted Catherine Zeta-Jones as a brand ambassador.

In 2014, he sold his 55.2% stake in Viber, an Israeli instant messaging app, for $496 million to Japanese company Rakuten.

A year later, he and Stacey Cooper tied the knot during a lavish, three-day Bahamas wedding attended by Steve Wynn, Jacob (the Jeweler) Arabo and lawyer Robert Shapiro, among others, Page Six reported.

In 2019 he was sued for misapplying a $1.7 million donation meant for Yale Jewish society for the renovation for a historic mansion near the Ivy League University meant for hosting Jewish leaders. (The suit was later dropped).

The suit alleged that Shabtai failed to live up to the agreement and did not renovate the Orange Street property in New Haven.

Samantha also alleges in court docs Shabtai “has applied for an received PPP loans on behalf of the restaurant,” but allowed the lease to go into default for failure to pay rent going back to 2020. Instead he “pocketed the the PPP loan proceeds for himself,” the suit claims. Benny denied these allegations to The Post.

According to public records, Shabtai’s LLC, 19501 Biscayne, claimed $1,611,432 in PPP loan money between April 2020 and May 2021.

Source: https://nypost.com/2023/11/22/news/jeffrey-epstein-friend-sexually-harassed-stepdaughter-suit/

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