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L.A. police investigating Stan Lee elder abuse case

Raechal Leone Shewfelt
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Stan Lee at Wizard World Comic Con, January 2018, in New Orleans. (Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images)

Comic book legend Stan Lee was granted a temporary restraining order against Keya Morgan, his former business manager, on Wednesday. Documents in the case confirmed that Los Angeles police are investigating reports of elder abuse against Lee, 95.

According to the Associated Press, the restraining order filing accuses Morgan of taking advantage of Lee and his impaired judgment, hearing, and vision, as well as keeping him away from family members and other associates. Morgan, a 42-year-old memorabilia dealer, was arrested Monday for allegedly filing a false police report. Lee’s former attorney is reportedly acting on his behalf.

It’s the latest installment of the long, sad saga engulfing the Spider-Man creator and his $50 million-plus estate. It comes two months after a Lee friend told the Hollywood Reporter that Lee was “in need of a superhero himself.” Two days after that report, Lee sent a video to TMZ in which he insisted he was fine.

The situation is complicated, with enough characters and drama to fill a book, and time is of the essence in addressing Lee’s affairs.

Why is this coming up now?

Since Lee’s wife, Joan, died on July 6, 2017, several unsettling events have happened to her famous husband, and not just the health problems that can be expected with a person of Lee’s age. Since December, TMZ has reported police investigations of the disappearance of millions from Lee’s bank account, in at least three separate incidents. Police officers showed up at Lee’s home in February, when a former employee allegedly refused to leave. His production company, Pow! Entertainment, told the Los Angeles Police Department that his daughter and Morgan showed up at his offices “in the middle of the night” on March 15 and “removed several items,” even though Lee continues to have access to the facility. (Morgan reportedly provided a video of Lee saying he asked him and his daughter to retrieve some of his belongings.) Then Bleeding Cool reported that, at April’s Silicon Valley Comic Con, fans referred to Lee’s appearance as “Weekend at Stan Lee’s.” After those stories from THR and TMZ, the New York Times covered the story too.

Around the same time, Lee also filed a lawsuit against his former business manager, Jerardo “Jerry” Olivarez, claiming fraud.

How is Lee’s relationship with his daughter described in reports?

The 67-year-old daughter of Stan and his late wife, Joan Celia, goes by JC. THR described her as “unruly,” and as having a “powder-keg relationship” with her father. Household staff and those who’ve worked with Lee told the publication that she has been physically abusive to both her parents. Bradley Herman, a former Lee business manager, said that’s what happened in 2014, when J.C. assumed that a new Jaguar in the driveway had been bought for her, only to find out that it was leased in Stan’s name. Herman said JC “roughly grabbed her mother by one arm, shoving her against a window.” When her father said in response that he was cutting her off financially, JC. allegedly grabbed him by the neck and slammed his head against the chair he was sitting in.

JC has denied that the incident occurred. In the initial New York Times report, Lee said, “My daughter has been a great help to me.” However, his story was different in a declaration that he signed in February and that THR obtained. In the document, Lee noted that his adult daughter has always been supported by her parents and has never had a job or income, but regularly charges $20,000 to $40,000 per month on credit cards funded by her parents. He also said his daughter has been abusive to him. He then identified three men as “bad actors with bad intentions,” who have “insinuated themselves into relationships” with her for “ulterior motives and purposes,” and are trying to “gain control of my assets, property, and money.” None of the four people named, including JC, were to be named his guardian or executor, according to the document.

Morgan supplied a video of Lee calling the document “totally incorrect, inaccurate, misleading, and insulting.”

JC declined to speak with THR, but her attorney, Kurt Schenck, gave a comment: “The story isn’t that JC is taking advantage of her father, but that she’s potentially being taken advantage of by multiple men.”

Who are those “bad actors with bad intentions”?

Lee named three men in that declaration, including Olivarez, the Lee consultant who eventually obtained power of attorney for him and who is now being sued by him. Other Lee associates accused Olivarez of taking more than $1 million of that missing money. He said the money he took from Lee was a gift, most of it for an $850,000 condo in a secure building, because Olivarez had received death threats.

Schenck, JC’s lawyer, was cited. The third man named in that February declaration that Lee later said was “inaccurate” was Morgan. He was the person behind the video Lee gave TMZ, demanding that the media leave him and his friend Morgan alone. (Notice the credit on the bottom.) Morgan is the man planning to make a Lee biopic.

Stan Lee and Chadwick Boseman, who plays the Lee-created character Black Panther, at an event in L.A. last year. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Who else is involved?

A man named Mac “Max” Anderson is also a notable person in the story. He’s a former road manager for Lee who told THR that he’s been pushed out of the star’s life by Lee’s daughter and Morgan. He’s the one who police removed from Lee’s property back in February, and he continues to be part of the narrative. The same publication said a video exists that showed one of Lee’s nurses telling JC and Morgan that Anderson had found her in the street and offered her $50,000 to say, in a declaration, that Lee was being held against his will. (Anderson admitted he did so, and that he believes such a statement is factual, but “did not bribe her.”)

Another name to know is Linda Sanchez, who began working as Stan’s nurse following Joan’s death. She signed her own declaration on Feb. 20, in which she wrote about JC’s conflicts with Stan and said that people close to him were speaking to him about financial issues without his lawyer present. Sanchez alleged that Morgan had leaked to the media a false story about her having a romantic relationship with her famous boss around the time of the declaration. She also said he threatened to expose DUI and hit-and-run incidents in her past if she told people about instances of elder abuse she said she’d seen. Morgan told THR that he didn’t leak the story and doesn’t have “ill will” toward Sanchez.

And what about Lee’s blood being swiped for a business venture?

Here’s where Olivarez comes up again. According to TMZ, Lee claims in his lawsuit against Olivarez that he didn’t actually give that money to him, as Olivarez had said. Lee also stated in the lawsuit, through his lawyer Jonathan Freund, that Olivarez had a nurse extract blood from Lee and, without his knowledge, sold the comic mogul’s blood as a collectible.

This lengthy and bizarre story isn’t over yet.

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