Lawsuit: Chaldean leader took improper payments

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Neighborhood Market Association says legal action by six of its members is baseless
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By Greg Moran
The former president of the Neighborhood Market Association, who has made a national name as an advocate for Chaldeans seeking asylum in the U.S., is being sued by association members who allege he received $248,000 in improper payments.

In a lawsuit filed Sept. 24, six members of the association that represents thousands of corner markets and liquor store owners allege that Mark Arabo was paid $210,000 in connection with the sale of the group’s office building in Mission Valley in 2010.

It also says Arabo, who has made a national reputation lobbying members of congress on behalf of Middle Eastern Christians seeking refuge in the U.S., was paid $38,000 for travel expenses and costs that were incurred on non-NMA business.
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Mark Arabo
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Arabo stepped down as the president of the NMA on Sept. 1 and is now listed as the honorary president and spokesman for the group. He could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Norman Grissom, attorney for the plaintiffs, said they have been asking for information about the payments for six months but were rebuffed by the NMA.

“Mark realized a windfall from that,” Grissom said of the property sale. “We don’t know if he was entitled to that.”

Amad Attisha, the executive chairman of the NMA, said that the suit is “baseless and without merit.” He said the organization has been transparent in its dealings, and the suit is an effort by a disgruntled faction to get access via litigation to the membership list of the association.

Amir Oram, the association treasurer who is also named as defendant, said the suit is “sour grapes” from members who have tried to get leadership positions with the association but have failed.
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