OGILVIE, Minn. -- Pop singer Tony Sandler is being sued for more than $1 million by his brother, who accuses the singer of conduct 'beyond the bounds of human decency.'
'It's a classic example of a family feud,' Sandler retorted from the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas, where he is peforming. He called the accusations of his brother, Pierre Santele, 'frivolus and unfounded.'
Santele said Sandler, who recently split with his singing partner, Ralph Young, in the Sandler and Young duo, lured him from Belgium to work on his 835-acre farm five years ago and paid him little before firing him in February.
He wants a one-fourth interest in the $4.6 million Sandler farm and peat-processing firm, plus money for serving as plant manager and president of a meatpacking company.
The 10-page lawsuit, filed in Kanabec County District Court, accuses Sandler, 51, of defrauding his brother by persuading Santele to move to the United States in 1969, claiming he 'would become a wealthy man' and promising him a 25 percent interest in the farm and other businesses.
The suit claims he cleared the swamp of trees, raised cattle and planted corn, wild rice, sunflowers and Christmas trees, and helped build a peat-processing plant on the farm.
Santele repeatedly demanded payment in cash, deeds or stock certificates but Sandler refused, the suit said. Instead, Sandler paid him $110 to $220 a week and provided free room and board in a house on the farm.
'It doesn't sound like 25 percent of a $4 million farm, does it?' said Santele's attorney, Robert Frisbee of Minneapolis. He said county assessors valued the property at $4.6 million.
'Sandler's conduct was committed intentionally and recklessly and was so extreme and outrageous as to go beyond the bounds of human decency,' the lawsuit said.
'That's what I would have written about him,' Sandler, who makes his permanent home near Lake Tahoe, Nev., said Thursday.
'My brother was an employee. He walked out on the company, Earth Products, and is now extremely upset because the business didn't stop. He ... is acting crazy. When you're in the public eye, you're vulnerable to all sorts of things.'