The bitter multi-million dollar legal battle between Johnny Depp and his former business managers at The Management Group over the Pirates Of The Caribbean star’s finances has just gotten a lot bigger and personal – literally.
“In his attempt to avoid paying his debts to TMG, Depp is knowingly throwing his closest family, friends and employees under the bus by falsely alleging that they took millions of dollars in unauthorized payments from him,” a blunt amended complaint filed today in L.A. states of payments that they say the actor was “fully aware” of. “It is no wonder that Depp delayed for months in revealing their names,” the fraud claiming jury trial seeking paperwork adds (read it here).
Which means, with those names now revealed, TMG have now added the Oscar nominee’s nephew, several close pals, a music label and Depp’s sister, who is also his personal manager and head of his production company, as cross-defendants in their cross-complaint. Essentially they’re saying: you’re suing the wrong people bucko!
Additionally, the dramatic inclusion of sister Christi Dembrowski, nephew William Rassel, personal assistant, Nathan Holmes, Unison Music and friends James Russo, Sal Jenco, and Bruce Witkin to the cross-complaint raises the stakes in what has been a fairly salacious situation ever since Depp first sued TMG in filed a $25 million lawsuit, back in January.
It also means under California’s equitable indemnity laws that a judge could press those family and friends to pay Depp back directly the nearly $10 million he says was improperly handed out on his behalf – which could make for a very uncomfortable family Thanksgiving to say the least.
“Depp’s claims of unauthorized loans to the new Cross-Defendants are not a basis for Depp to obtain a judicial declaration requiring the disgorgement of any business management fees from TMG, or for any of his other baseless claims,” today’s third amended complaint by TMG’s Hollywood heavyweight lawyers at Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP asserts. “Depp’s closest friends, family, and colleagues who have been added as new Cross-Defendants in this action have only Depp to blame for their involvement in this charade,” the 51-page filing adds.
As things stand, after a hearing in DTLA this morning, a trial for the case is currently set to start on August 15, 2018. TMG insists that all those loans were authorized by Depp or by Dembrowski in his name. Depp’s side insists that was not the case, though they did fight hard to keep who actually got the more than $7 million now in dispute secret.
As things also stand, despite Dembrowski being part of the group that got millions from the actor, Depp’s sister is still running his Infinitum Nihil production company with the actor, Sam Sarkar and Stephen Deuters. The company inked a first look deal with IM Global earlier this summer.
Coming days after the auction for the belt tightening actor’s Kentucky farm failed to get a bid for its $2.9 million asking price, today’s filing is the latest twist in the fast weaving journey since Depp first took things to the courts on January 25 against his longtime business managers. In his initial suit, the actor preemptively claimed that he had been the subject of a Hollywood accounting swindle. “As a result of years of gross mismanagement and sometimes outright fraud, Mr. Depp lost tens of millions of dollars and has been forced to dispose of significant assets to pay for TMG’s self-dealing and gross misconduct,” the actor’s suit read, amidst claims in unauthorized loans to unnamed individuals (See where this is going?).
Specifically, in addition to the unauthorized loans, Depp’s lawyers at L.A-based firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLC claimed that TMG paid itself more than $28 million in contingency fees without a written agreement and failed to file or pay his taxes on time. The latter supposedly resulted in more than $5.6 million in fees and penalties on Depp’s federal returns.
Back on January 31, TMG filed a cross-complaint that declared that the actor’s big spending habits were the real cause of his dwindling finances and he owned them over $500,000 in unpaid commissions. TMG’s response damningly detailed a lifestyle of the rich and famous of homes all over the world, lavish art collections, cars, boats, plus the $3 million Depp spent to launch the ashes of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s out of a cannon in 2005 and the $2 million he pays out every month on day-to-day expenses.
Since then the two sides have sparred in filings, in court, in the press, in emails revelations and sought a probe from the feds over the case. In that process, more and more accusations have been thrown about and further examples of Depp’s allegedly extravagant spending habits being revealed.
At a hearing in July, Judge Teresa Beaudet denied TMG’s motion for declaratory relief that Depp “caused his own financial waste” and wanted some of the spending details stripped out of the case, if they couldn’t be put in the proper context. The LASC judge also ruled however that TMG’s claim of promissory fraud against Depp could stand. Just over a week later, TMG filed a heavily redacted amended cross-complaint that cited more examples of Depp’s “ultra-extravagant lifestyle” over the 17-year period it repped the actor.
So, on #TalkLikeAPirateDay, expect more of that before this thing goes to trial next summer, if it does.