Just a day after a strange video featuring the elderly comics mogul threatening to sue any media outlet covering allegations of elder abuse and fraud surrounding Lee’s fortune, news surfaced that Lee was now suing his former business manager, Jerardo Olivarez, for just those things.
In a suit filed friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Jerardo Olivarez, who was an associate of Lee’s daughter, J.C. The suit alleges, as reported by Deadline, that Olivarez, in the wake of the 2017 death of Lee’s wife, Joan B. Lee, took control of Lee’s financial and professional affairs, using his newfound power to line his own pockets. Just days after Joan’s death, the suit alleges, Olivarez and his associates had fired Lee’s banker of 46 years, along with Lee’s long-time attorney, and transferred $4.6 million out of Lee’s bank account. It says Olivarez also convinced Lee to sign over power of attorney to Olivarez, with Olivarez’s lawyer Uri Litvak taking over as Lee’s as well.
From there, the accusations align closely with rumors that have been floating around the media for some time—that Olivarez, using the non-profit Hands of Respect as a front, fraudulently having Lee donate $300,000 of his own money to the enterprise, while also engaging in bizarre money-making schemes like selling Lee’s blood.
The suit, which seeks accounting of the stolen funds and commensurate restitution, paints, alongside Lee’s Thursday video, an even more confusing picture of Lee’s inner circle and the amount of control he has over his own affairs in this late stage of his life. Someone with legal power in Lee’s side certainly thinks wrongdoing has been done, at least. We’ll see if it gets set right.