EXCLUSIVE — Panthers Owner, Philanthropist File Suit: Cash Should’ve Gone Into Porn!

Al Malnik and Jordan Zimmerman

Al Malnik (left) and Jordan Zimmerman suing to get their money back! (Gossip Extra collage)

Hockey’s Florida Panthers co-owner Jordan Zimmerman and high-profile philanthropist Al Malnik have filed a lawsuit to recoup their investment into what they thought was a company with thousands of XXX-rated websites.

Usually, folks sue after they find out their cash is supporting porn!

Marc Bell and Dan Staton

Marc Bell (left) and Dan Staton, owners of the Boca Raton-based FriendFinder (Splash News photo)

Not these guys: Advertising exec Zimmerman and Malnik, the original owner of the Miami Beach restaurant The Forge, claim in court papers they each gave about $1 million in 2008 to well-known Boca Raton businessmen Marc Bell and Dan Staton for use in their network of websites, FriendFinder Networks.

FriendFinder runs 40,000 sites that cater to 500 million users looking for dates, or looking for excitement with swingers, sadomasochists and married folks, among other tastes.

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Thing is, according to the lawsuit filed in a Palm Beach County circuit court: Bell and Staton allegedly didn’t put the money into FriendFinder as planned but into a new company they were trying to buy, and failed, according to the lawsuit.

There was supposed to be a 25-plus percent interest on Zimmerman’s and Malnik’s money if certain conditions were met, according to the paperwork.

Three years after receiving their dough, Bell and Staton told Zimmerman and Malnik that their money vanished into the deposit for the new company they claim they’d never heard of.

But since Bell and Staton couldn’t raise enough money the buy it outright, Zimmerman and Malnik were out a million bucks each.

“It was bait and switch,” said David Goldstein, the plaintiffs’ lawyer. “They were investing in FriendFinder, and they ended up unknowingly investing somewhere else. They just want their money back.”

They’re out of luck, said attorney Gerry Richman, who reps Bell and Staton.

“This was a sophisticated transaction that was fully documented. The investors took their chances. Nobody was deceived,” Richman said.

“The plaintiffs are basically saying ‘Gee, we didn’t read the documents.’ Malnik’s a brilliant lawyer, and I’m sure he read everything. There was to be a significant upside to the investment and that just didn’t happen.”

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