On July 27, El Cajon dentist Husam Aldairi filed a suit in federal court against Gus Dahleh. According to the suit, Dahleh "has contacted [Aldairi's] wife and falsely informed her that [Aldairi] had engaged in sexual relations with other women outside his marriage." Dahleh allegedly had wanted to engage in an illegal Chicago real estate deal with Aldairi, who had refused.
Aldairi's time in Chicago was one of ups and downs. According to a decision of a judge in his bankruptcy filing, Aldairi had at least eight dental offices in the Chicago area and owned 13 residential buildings, mainly in upscale areas. He had a condo in Miami, Florida. He began making the newspapers in Chicago because of his 45,000-square-foot estate on 4.5 acres in Burr Ridge. He named it "Villa Taj."
It was in the neo-Byzantine Moorish revival architectural style, with a gold Jerusalem limestone exterior, according to the Chicago Tribune, which said it was "Middle Eastern-influenced." As it was being built, some neighbors complained to Burr Ridge officials that it looked like a mosque. Aldairi said it was a tribute to cultural integration. He complained that building inspectors kept delaying its construction. "He went overboard building it," says his San Diego lawyer, Joseph Samo, who filed the suit against Dahleh.
At one time, Villa Taj was listed for sale for $25 million. It was foreclosed upon, and ultimately sold by a bank for $3.1 million.
A female employee filed a sexual harassment suit against two of Aldairi's employees — not against Aldairi — and that helped precipitate his downfall, which was exacerbated by the Great Recession of 2007-2009. I asked him if he planned to set up a string of dentist offices similar to what he had in Chicago. "I am not financially capable of doing that," he responded.
He filed for bankruptcy in 2008, but U.S. bankruptcy judge Jacqueline P. Cox of the Northern District of Illinois ultimately ruled that he had filed for bankruptcy "for the improper purpose" of delaying court-ordered payments to the victim of sexual harassment. In her official opinion, she said Aldairi's testimony was "inconsistent and evasive" and exhibits were "incomplete, unclear, or simply missing." Aldairi and his companies were "uncooperative and unresponsive" to requests to turn over financial information. "The court observed Aldairi's demeanor and finds that his testimony is not credible."
She dismissed the bankruptcy and imposed sanctions against him and two of his dental units. The judge said he was to pay more than $314,000. His family moved to the San Diego area, and he later came, too.
"I have been harmed enough — unjustly," says Aldairi.