Years before his latest real-estate project ignited an uproar, Sharif El-Gamal racked up at least seven run-ins with the law, including a bust for patronizing a prostitute.
Gamal recently threatened a Canadian Muslim woman who publicly opposed the GZ mosque: muslim-woman-who-opposes-ground-zero-victory-mosque-is-threatened-by-the-developer
The brothers and another man went to the apartment that afternoon to retrieve back rent from Mark Vassiliev, criminal and civil court records show. El-Gamal allegedly cursed at Vassiliev, called him the Arabic curse word “sharmouta” and punched him in the face, breaking his nose and cheekbones. When he was arrested, El-Gamal denied he socked Vassiliev, but conceded, “[Vassiliev’s] face could have run into my hand,” court papers say.
He was charged with misdemeanor assault and harassment. Charges were dropped in 2007 after Vassiliev sued. El-Gamal eventually settled the civil case for $15,000 – and the 2008 negotiations provided a glimpse into his finances.
He pleaded guilty in 1994, 1998 and 1999 to disorderly conduct in Manhattan. He also pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in 1990, DWI in 1992 and attempted petit larceny in 1993, Nassau County prosecutors said. Details were unavailable, but a source confirmed a 1994 arrest for patronizing a prostitute.
In 2005, Vassiliev’s lawyer, Erik L. Gray, said there was no indication El-Gamal had assets beyond a $1.1 million upper West Side pad he owned with his wife.
If his 2008 cries of poverty were genuine, El-Gamal experienced a dramatic reversal of fortune a year later, scoring a $39 million mortgage to buy a W. 27th St. commercial building. He had a partner, Egyptian-born businessman Hisham Elzanaty, who co-signed the loan. Elzanaty denied to discuss his dealings with El-Gamal.
In a deposition for the Vassiliev suit, El-Gamal testified he worked as a waiter from 1997 to 2001 when he “moved onto greener pastures.” He bought the property where he plans to build a $100 million Islamic cultural center, two blocks from Ground Zero, for nearly $5 million in July 2009.