baseball

John Angelos and mother ‘plundered’ tens of millions from ailing Orioles owner Peter Angelos – Baltimore Sun

An explosive new court filing alleges Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos and his mother “plundered” tens of millions of dollars from ailing team owner Peter Angelos, bought a greater share of the franchise and shielded assets from potential creditors.

The allegations were made by Peter Angelos’ younger son, Louis Angelos, in an updated lawsuit against his brother and mother. They depict an alleged scheme that, in the five years since the patriarch fell ill and became incapacitated, John and Georgia Angelos “systematically drained” a bank account that held more than $65 million, leaving about $400,000 as of several months ago.

“Peter’s wife, Georgia, and his son, John, have failed him, shirked their responsibilities and breached their legal duties, in multiple, catastrophic ways,” according to the amended complaint Louis Angelos filed Monday in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

The filing says mother and son secretly bought additional shares of the team from another member of the Baltimore Orioles Limited Partnership that, with Peter Angelos as the majority investor, owns the team.

Neither the amount of the shares nor the seller is identified, although it is apparently a woman. The current partnership includes two women by name, Wanda King, the first wife of the late author Tom Clancy, and Pam Shriver, the former tennis star. It also includes estates and a foundation that could include or be represented by women.

The investor “expressed an interest in selling a portion of her ownership in the Orioles,” according to the filing, and in December 2021, Georgia Angelos and John Angelos “approved the purchase of her stock.” The filing goes on to say Louis Angelos, 53, believes his father’s assets “were used to borrow funds for the purchase.”

“Peter received no benefit from this transaction, but was forced to incur the debt,” the filing states.

Steven D. Silverman, who represents John Angelos, responded Tuesday in an email, saying: “Defense counsel will respond to the latest round of falsehoods and fabrications in due course.” A request for comment from former state Attorney General Doug Gansler, who represents Georgia Angelos, was not immediately returned. Louis Angelos’ attorney, Jeffrey E. Nusinov, declined to comment.

The family’s legal battle is escalating at a time when team leadership faces several major decisions, from whether to extend its lease to continue playing at Camden Yards to boosting its ranks of mostly young players with higher-priced talent to become more competitive on the field.

Earlier this month, John Angelos deflected questions about the impact of the family legal battle on the future of the team and its ownership, promising to provide answers at a meeting with the media that has yet to be held.

The new filing also alleges that John Angelos, 55, and Georgia Angelos, 81, transferred assets from Peter Angelos, 93, to shield them from potential creditors that could include former clients of his law firm. Peter Angelos’ decades-old Baltimore law firm won hundreds of millions of dollars over the years on behalf of steelworkers and others harmed by asbestos.

Of the $65 million that was in a Wells Fargo account in Peter Angelos’ name, the largest single transfer, $26.75 million, went to a checking account held by his wife, the filing said. Of that, “the bulk” was transferred immediately after a group of clients filed a malpractice suit against Peter Angelos and his law firm in 2021, to shield assets from a potential judgment, the filing alleges.

The complaint depicts John Angelos as an aggrieved son who felt underappreciated and underpaid by his father. It quotes from so-called manifestoes that John Angelos wrote, including one from March 3, 2015, in which he says he’s created hundreds of millions of dollars of cash flow and wealth for family’s companies yet his salary never exceeded $175,000 at the Orioles or $225,000 at Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, also known as MASN.

He wrote he was “severely” underpaid, “not withstanding my vast experience in managing team operations and my diversity of in depth and hands on experience in sports and in media business expertise and a combined skill set unparalleled among any Mlb [Major League Baseball] chief executives.”

Peter Angelos’ disability provided, the filing said, “an opening to obtain the recognition, power and compensation that he believed was his due.”

With his mother, who serves as Peter Angelos’ attorney-in-fact, rubber-stamping and sometimes even signing documents without reading them, John Angelos was able to remove his brother and another official from positions that conducted oversight of the Orioles operations, the filing said. It added that John Angelos increased his salary, although the amounts were redacted from the filing, and amended the Orioles partnership agreement to give the “control person” designated by MLB veto power over any votes. That control person is John Angelos.

The claims on Jan. 25, 2021, $1.7 million was transferred from Peter Angelos’ Wells Fargo account to a real estate lawyer in Saratoga Springs, New York, “to enable John to buy a house there.” According to the filing, on April 7, 2021, another $2.5 million was wired to John Angelos.

The new filing adds considerable fire to what was already a scorched-earth legal battle within one of the state’s most prominent families.

The fight has revealed that the family, Georgia Angelos, in particular, has been planning to sell the Orioles. According to Louis Angelos’ lawsuit, though, his brother has resisted such efforts, including turning away what the suit characterizes as a “credible” group of buyers in 2020. Sources have told The Baltimore Sun that John Angelos wants the family to keep a majority control of the team.

The litigation also revealed that Georgia Angelos and John Angelos have wanted to wind down or sell the law firm, plans that have been resisted by Louis Angelos, who has been managing it since his father’s incapacitation.

Judge Keith Truffer has scheduled a trial for July on both Louis Angelos’ suit and one filed in August by Georgia Angelos. She sued her younger son, saying he sold his father’s law firm to himself, characterizing it as elder financial abuse. Louis Angelos claimed the move was necessary because of the law required the firm to be transferred to another attorney after Peter Angelos was disabled.

The new filing counters that it is Peter Angelos’ wife and older son who have financially exploited him.

“The defendants abused their positions of trust and confidence … knowing that Peter, by virtue of his disability, is unaware of these acts and unable to register any protest or take any corrective action to protect his rights.”

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