It may be time for west Boca's Kabbalah Learning Centre to hit up Madonna for some dough.
County records show that the controversial Jewish mysticism sect's nearly finished place on Palmetto Park Road has had five liens against it from building contractors for nonpayment of bills.
Subcontractor GNC Welding & Piping in WPB has been owed $8,311 since May 2004.
"I'm suing," said owner Gary Lincul. "They say it's not their fault, that they paid the contractor who hired me. The Kabbalah people seem nice, but I have no choice."
Whether it's on ABC's 20/20 or in Radar magazine, Kabbalah's image has taken hits lately -- something that even the boosterism of the likes of Madonna, who has given the group an estimated $18 million since 2001, MTV prankster Ashton Kutcher and his older galpal, actress Demi Moore, and pop tart Britney Spears would have a hard time fixing. The latest stories show Kabbalah leader Philip Berg's family allegedly lining its pockets in business ventures, causing the IRS to reevaluate the group's tax-free status.
So with big money rolling in, why not make sure contractors are paid on time?
The Boca center's rabbi, Abe Hardoon, was unavailable for comment Tuesday. And the Left Coast-based group's publicist, Alison Cohen, didn't return calls.
Yet records show the center had liens placed by: Hertz Equipment Rental, Riviera Beach, in February for $4,561 unpaid since June 2004; Ferguson Waterworks, Pompano Beach, in March 2004 for $3,329.72 unpaid since September 2003; and concrete and asphalt companies in 2000. Three of the liens were paid. GNC Welding and the concrete company haven't.
The sect's tax-free status, by the way, extends to property taxes, Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits confirmed. "The application file is confidential, but they qualify as religious nonprofit," Nikolits said.