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Johnny Depp’s Ex-Biz Managers Hit Back At “Absurd & False” $25M Fraud Lawsuit

Deadline logo Deadline 1/31/2017 Dominic Patten
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They said they were going to do it when the Pirates of the Caribbean actor sued them for fraud in a $25 million lawsuit this month, and today Johnny Depp’s former longtime business managers the Mandel Company hit back at the three-time Oscar nominee with a cross-complaint of fraud and more of their own.

“TMG did everything within its power over the last 17 years to protect Depp from himself and to keep Depp financially solvent,” states the jury trial-seeking cross-complaint filed Tuesday in L.A. Superior Court by Michael Kump and Susan Macisaac of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP (read it here). “However, ultimately TMG did not have the power or ability to control Depp’s spending or his numerous other vices, or to force Depp to make wiser financial decisions.”

Of the oft-repeated Hollywood star situation of mo’ money, mo’ problems, the filing asserts: “In his complaint, Depp claims that throughout his 17-year relationship with TMG, he was kept ignorant about his financial condition. That allegation is absurd and untrue.” The six-claim filing essentially seeks more than $560,000 in unpaid commissions and credit card fees and, in a effort to cut short the actor’s big-bucks lawsuit against TMG, a court declaration that the Mandel Company “complied with all of its fiduciary obligations under the law and that Depp is responsible for his own financial waste.”

In his January 13 complaint, the Sweeney Todd actor and Hollywood Vampires guitarist alleges that TMG took him to the cleaners for tens of millions due to “gross mismanagement and sometimes outright fraud.” The filing by the actor and fellow plaintiff Edward L. White as trustees of the Mooh Investment Trust also claimed that TMG paid itself more than $28 million in contingency fees without a written agreement but failed to pay or file his taxes on time — leading to big penalties — and loaned millions to third parties without his consent, among other mishandling of the actor’s money.

© Provided by Deadline TMG’s response? No way, Captain Jack.

“Depp further alleges in his complaint that he only learned about his financial problems in March 2016 when he hired Edward White of Edward White & Co., LLP in Woodland Hills, California,” the paperwork asserts of the timeline of events in this age old Hollywood tale of mo’ money, mo’ problems. “This charge is also false.”

“For years, TMG repeatedly informed Depp and Dembrowski and personal lawyer, Jake Bloom, that Depp was living beyond his means, and urged him to spend less and to sell certain expensive but unnecessary assets to repay loans and pay his taxes and living expenses,” the filing notes of the actor, his sister/personal manager Elisa Christie Dembrowski and Depp’s lawyer.

While it doesn’t go into how much the often well-turned-out actor spent on bandannas and hats, there’s apparently few other rocks unturned in the return salvo in this legal battle; the 31-page countersuit is filled with multiple tales of “come to Jesus” meetings and potential solutions over Depp’s excessive and seemingly chaotic finances. For instance, his former agency UTA is revealed as having helped the actor borrow money from Bank of America in 2015 and others over the years and blunted attempts to sell property to meet obligations. And there was an unheeded warning to get a prenup to his now-dissolved marriage to Amber Heard, which ended in a multimillion-dollar settlement last summer in lieu of a potential nasty public court faceoff.

Adding to the un-balanced sheet, there’s the more than “$75 million to acquire, improve and furnish 14 residences” around the world, $3 million to shoot Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes out of a cannon when the infamous writer died in 2005, full-time personal security and “45 luxury cars.” Then there’s more with the likes of a vanity record label; $10 million a year to support an entourage of friends, family and personal employees; fine wines flown in from around the world at a cost of $30,000 a month; “millions to acquire and maintain a massive and extremely expensive art collection including over 200 collectible pieces and works by world famous artists such as Warhol, Klimt, Basquiat, and Modigliani”; and reports of loans from Disney, with up to 10% interest.

“I am ready to face the music, in whatever way I must,” the cross-complaint proclaims Depp said in a text sent in October 2015 to a Mandel principal, with a $5 million loan from TMG itself allegedly also hanging over his head in a separate and ongoing non-judicial foreclosure. “I know there’s a way to dig ourselves out of this hole and I am bound and determined to do it,” they claim Depp texted them. The business managers say this way out eventually became suing them to avoid the real costs, so to speak.

“Over 30 years, TMG has never been sued by a client,” Kump told Deadline today on behalf of the well-known and widely used firm. “The only reason Depp filed this lawsuit was to interfere with TMG’s ongoing efforts to be repaid on the loan they had made to bail him out,” the attorney also said. “TMG worked day and night to professionally manage Depp’s business affairs, adhering to the highest standards.”

In the filing Tuesday, Kump and Macisaac names Depp and White personally, limited partnership Edward White & Co., LLP, L.R.D. Productions, Inc and Scaramanga Bros. Inc., plus others as the defendants in this case.

The CAA-represented Depp is having this matter handled by a team of lawyers at at L.A-based firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLC.

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