Roger Corman

Journalist Settles Age Bias Suit Against NBC

By Matt Reynolds
(Courthouse News Service, Los Angeles)

Veteran journalist Frank Snepp has settled claims that he was forced out of NBCUniversal Media’s LA news affiliate KNBC-TV because of his age.

Snepp filed a notice of settlement on March 28 and NBC asked a judge to dismiss the case on April 18, according to court records at Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Late last year, a California state court judge declared a mistrial in the journalist’s age discrimination suit against NBC, after a jury deadlocked following three full days of deliberations.

Snepp sued NBCUniversal Media and its Los Angeles affiliate KNBC-TV in 2014. The 73-year-old producer and reporter claimed news director Todd Mokhtari and general manager Steve Carlston abruptly fired him from his $120,000-a-year position in October 2012 after he had complained about age discrimination and ageism.

Snepp was 69 when he lost his job.

After NBC hired him in 2006, the former CIA operative won three Emmys, a Los Angeles Press Club award and a Peabody Award for his investigative reporting at the station.

Comcast acquired NBCUniversal in 2009, and Snepp said the philosophy of the station changed as it addressed declining ratings and pivoted towards a more youthful audience.

Along with the rebrand, reporters were given new job titles as “content producers,” told to take a more hands-on approach during production and write more stories, the jury heard during the trial.

But NBC said there was no evidence that the station had discriminated against Snepp and claimed that he had refused to do assigned production tasks or learn to use a newsroom editing system.

Snepp had also worked on HBO movie scripts, television pitches and other side projects while working at NBC, the media company said, including a script based on his book “Irreparable Harm.”

The book detailed a campaign of retaliation against Snepp for writing the expose “Decent Interval,” detailing his time as a CIA operative during the Vietnam War. But Snepp’s attorneys argued that the movie projects were “red herrings” that masked the station’s discriminatory conduct.

Snepp had sought almost $5.5 million in damages. A new trial date of April 18 was taken off the court’s calendar.

Snepp’s attorneys Suzelle Smith and Ames Magill Smith of Howarth & Smith were not immediately available for comment by phone on Wednesday.

Their spokeswoman Kathy Pinckert said she could not disclose how much the journalist had settled the case for.

“The matter was resolved,” Pinckert said.

During a brief phone interview, NBC’s attorney Bart Williams, with the firm Proskauer, also said he could not disclose the terms of the settlement.

B-Movie King Roger Corman Ripped Off by Ponzi Schemer for $60 Million?


Hollywood’s legendary B-movie king ROGER CORMAN is embroiled in his own personal “Little Shop of Horrors” after a Ponzi schemer allegedly scammed $60 million from him, according to a blockbuster new lawsuit.

Roger, 88, who famously launched the acting careers of such stalwarts as Jack Nicholson and filmmaking legends Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola after striking drive-in gold with his series of Edgar Allan Poe/Vincent Price films may be facing financial ruin.

Roger who netted an honorary Oscar in 2010 for his no-holds-barred style of low budget filmmaking and his mentoring of fresh talent like Robert DeNiro and Ron Howard was also responsible for introducing Europe’s biggest filmmakers like Ingmar Bergmann to U.S. audiences through his distribution company.

The NY Post reported that Roger and his producer wife Julie's finances could be imperiled after $73 million of it was unwittingly invested by a hedge-fund manager, according to a bombshell lawsuit filed this week.

According to legal papers, the money was funneled into a Ponzi scheme run by Alphonse “Buddy” Fletcher in 2008 despite finance company Citco’s promise to keep the money “safe (and) secure”.

While $13 million has been recovered another $60 million is still reputedly unaccounted for.

Roger’s attorney Don Howarth told the NY tab, “He doesn’t have any idea he has his own ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ brewing with his investment manager.

“It’s like something right out of his horror movies — a nightmare.”

A Citco spokesman declined to comment to media on the lawsuit.

Roger Corman Lawsuit Blames Citco for Losing $60 Million of Family's Money

By Eriq Gardner
(The Hollywood Reporter)

Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Larry Busacca/Getty Images

The famed filmmaker says he wasn't told that his money was being managed by troubled hedge fund manager Buddy Fletcher.

Roger Corman and his wife Julie Corman, together responsible for hundreds of films and the mentoring of some of Hollywood's biggest directors and actors, have filed a lawsuit that says they put money in an investment fund managed by George Soros before the money was moved and they ended up losing up to $60 million.

According to the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, the administrator of the Soros fund was the Citco Group. The Cormans' primary contact there was Ermanno Unternaehrer.

In 1996, Unternaehrer convinced the Cormans to put money in a fund managed by Citco, instead of with Soros, alleges the complaint. The Cormans say they were told that "the Citco fund was a safe, secure place to invest their moneys, and that Citco would administer and manage the fund to ensure continued high performance."

For the next six years, things seemed fine. In 2002, Unternaehrer is said to have recommended that a vehicle named "Pasig, Ltd" be set up in the British Virgin Islands for tax reasons. Corman says he initially was a director of the newly incorporated company, but a few months later, upon advice, Corman says he resigned, becoming only a signatory on the account. By 2008, the lawsuit says that there was $73 million under Citco's "complete control" and management fell to Alphonse "Buddy" Fletcher.

If the name rings a bell, it's because Fletcher's financial troubles have been well detailed by the financial press. A court-appointed bankruptcy trustee once said that Fletcher's failed hedge fund "had many of the characteristics of a Ponzi scheme." Fletcher is also married to Ellen Pao, the former junior partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins who is currently suing the firm for gender discrimination. Pao is now the chief executive at Reddit. The judge in Pao's headline-making lawsuit wouldn't let Kleiner Perkins bring up Fletcher's financial troubles at trial.

The Cormans say they were not informed that the Pasig moneys were being transferred to Fletcher's management.

"Citco did not make this transfer of management to Fletcher in good faith based on the business or financial interests of the Cormans, but rather to further its own interests," they say in the complaint. "Citco was facing criticism from other clients for its conflicting role as both a bank and the manager of investment funds, and the transfer to Fletcher allowed Citco to mitigate this criticism. In addition, Citco obtained a payout to itself of at least $28 million for the transfer of management, along with other benefits for Citco and its representatives."

The lawsuit further alleges that Citco was familiar with Fletcher's operations, that Unternaehrer obtained $6.6 million in cash from Fletcher in a side deal, and that "Citco knew or should have known at the time of the transfer that Fletcher would be a poor manager of the fund, and that he was already engaged in fraud and mismanagement of other funds under his control."

The Cormans say their money got invested in the same Fletcher entity as the Louisiana Firefighters pension fund, which is currently subject to ongoing litigation over asset management. However, the Cormans imply they were even in a worse position. "Fletcher promised the Louisiana Firefighters pension fund that it would always obtain at least a 12% return on its investment," states the lawsuit. "Citco agreed to subordinate the rights of the Cormans' fund in the Fletcher entity to those of the Louisiana Firefighters Pension fund, even allowing Fletcher to reduce the value of the Cormans' funds in the entity in order to ensure that 12% return to the Firefighters."

The Cormans say that just four months after the money landed in Fletcher's hands, Citco removed the Cormans as signatories to the Pasig count, thus taking away their last remaining control over the money. By 2009, the Cormans say they were no longer receiving account statements. And when the "red flags" came, the Cormans say that Citco "intentionally concealed" material information.

Only $13 million of the $73 million was recovered, say the Cormans in a lawsuit that alleges 12 causes of action including breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. The Cormans are represented by Don Howarth and Suzelle Smith at Howarth Smith. A rep for Citco wasn't immeidately available for comment.

B-Movie King Sues Citco Over $60M Ponzi Scheme Loss

By Brandon Lowrey
(Law360, Los Angeles)

Legendary B-movie director Roger Corman on Monday sued Citco Group Ltd. alleging it tricked him and his wife into withdrawing millions from a successful fund managed by George Soros and investing it in what turned out to be a Ponzi scheme, resulting in a $60 million loss.

In a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Corman and his wife, film producer Julie Corman, allege Citco and related companies convinced them to invest millions with the financial services company, which later secretly put the funds under the control of a Ponzi schemer. Citco discovered the Ponzi scheme and removed its own funds but left the Cormans' money there to "go down with the ship," Corman's attorney Don Howarth of Howarth & Smith told Law360 on Tuesday.

"This gives new meaning to breach of fiduciary duties," Howarth said. "This is as extreme as I've seen. ... The whole point of [being] a fiduciary is putting your interests not ahead of your clients' interest but behind it. They reversed that."

According to the complaint, a Citco representative convinced the Cormans to invest with the company in late 1996. In 2002, Citco recommended setting up a corporation in the British Virgin Islands for tax purposes, and created Pasig Ltd. to manage the Corman's funds.

Roger Corman was initially a director of Pasig, but Citco employee and defendant Ermanno Unternaehrer told Corman that he should resign for tax purposes. In June 2008, Citco transferred control of the Cormans' funds to Alphonse "Buddy" Fletcher without telling the Cormans.

Citco obtained a payout of $28 million from the transfer. Unternaehrer allegedly arranged a side deal with Fletcher that netted him $6.6 million, the complaint says.

Meanwhile, Citco was an administrator for Fletcher's funds and knew he was struggling — he had not made a single profitable investment in the 10 months preceding the transfer and was having trouble paying back loans, the complaint said.

In addition, the $28 million that Fletcher paid Citco for the transfer of the Pasig funds came from money invested by the Louisiana Firefighters Pension Fund, which is also suing Citco over the Ponzi scheme, according to the complaint.

Citco had withdrawn its own funds from Fletcher's management without telling the Cormans, the suit says.

"Had Citco told the Cormans that it was pulling its money out of the Fletcher funds, the Cormans would not have left their own funds invested with Fletcher at the time," the suit says.

Citco later tried to withdraw the Cormans' funds in May 2010, but was unable to do so. In the summer of 2013, the Cormans were able to recover just $13 million of the $73 million that had been invested in Pasig, the complaint said.

Corman's suit alleges Citco breached its contract and fiduciary duties, committed fraud, negligence and other claims.

Representatives for Citco did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Corman is represented by Don Howarth, Suzelle M. Smith, Padraic Glaspy, and Jessica L. Rankin of Howarth & Smith.

Counsel information for the defendants was unavailable.

The case is Roger W. Corman et al. v. Citco Group Ltd. et al., case number BC576379, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

--Editing by Emily Kokoll.

Filmmaker Roger Corman Sues Over Losses From Buddy Fletcher

by Edvard Pettersson

Filmmaker Roger Corman sued a hedge-fund administrator that he blames for losses of as much as $60 million when money manager Alphonse “Buddy” Fletcher’s master fund went bankrupt.

Corman, whose movies include Edgar Allan Poe adaptations “House of Usher” and “The Raven,” and his wife claim that Citco Group Ltd. in 2008 transferred its management of $73 million in a Virgin Island entity to

Fletcher without telling them, and should have known better. “Citco did not inform the Cormans that Fletcher would be a poor manager or that he was already engaged in fraud and mismanagement of other funds under his control,” the Cormans said in a complaint filed Monday in state court in Los Angeles.

Fletcher is the husband of Ellen Pao, the former junior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers whose gender discrimination lawsuit against the Silicon Valley venture capital firm is on trial in San Francisco state court.

The U.S. trustee in charge of liquidating Fletcher International Ltd. said in 2013 that Fletcher’s company was a fraud that didn’t make a single profitable investment after Aug. 31, 2007. According to the trustee, Fletcher funnelled money out of the fund before it went bankrupt with the intent to defraud investors.

Corman accuses Amsterdam-based Citco Group of breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud and negligence, among other claims. He seeks unspecified damages.

Andrew G. Gordon, a lawyer who represents Citco Group in a lawsuit brought by three Louisiana pension funds over losses from their investments in Fletcher’s fund, declined to comment on Corman’s lawsuit.

Fletcher didn’t immediately respond after regular business hours to a phone message left for him at a number listed in court records.