James Franco Embezzlement Case: Defendants Accused of Refusing to Testify, Produce Documents

According to new court documents, accounting firm Tanner Mainstain Blatt Glynn & Johnson LLP refuses to respond to depositions for testimony or documents until their own subpoena against Franco’s former management company is answered

A new roadblock emerged in the embezzlement case involving James Franco, according to new court documents obtained by TheWrap.

In April, suit was filed against the actor’s recently-fired talent manager Miles Levy, and financial manager Steve Blatt. The suit alleged that the two knowingly diverted 5% of Franco’s 15% management commission to a separate company, Down Goes Frazier, Inc., created specifically for this purpose.

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A new document filed on Tuesday by the plaintiffs in the case, including Levy’s former management partner at James/Levy Management, Randy James, alleged that the accounting firm for which Blatt is a name partner, Tanner Mainstain Blatt Glynn & Johnson LLP, is now attempting to thwart the discovery process.

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The filing stated that the plaintiffs served notices of deposition to name partner William H. Tanner, as well as two book keepers, Lois M. Botchett, and Edna Valmeo, on May 9. The document suggested all three were at the least aware of the embezzlement, and were possibly even “instrumental in the chicanery detailed in the Complaint.”

Since that time, Tanner Mainstain has allegedly refused to produce witnesses for deposition or turn over any discoverable documents. “Tanner Mainstain is bent on delay and obstruction, it appears, so the last thing it wants is to present its untenable position to the Court and face speedy adjudication,” the filing reads.

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As such, the plaintiffs are asking the court to compel the three individuals deposed to testify via subpoena, as well as produce any relevant and requested documents. Deposition dates were scheduled for May 23, 28 and 30. As cited in the court filing, Tanner Mainstain’s legal counsel stated, “We will not produce Mr. Tanner, Ms. Valmeo or Ms. Botchett for deposition on the dates you have noticed, or any other dates, unless and until [James/Levy Management’s] custodian of records has appeared, testified, and produced documents as required by our subpoena.”

Levy’s counsel counters this by stating that Tanner Maintain has no legal right to defy deposition notices on the basis of their unanswered subpoena, which the document alleges is invalid anyway for seeking documents protected by rights of privacy.

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After the initial filing by James, and co-plaintiff Ken Jacobson in April, Tanner Mainstaim quickly counter-sued Jacobson, James and Levy, asserting that the three are trying to blame others for their own “carelessness and reckless action.” The suit even alleges that Jacobson left James/Levy in 2006 due to his distrust of Levy, but that James continued to work with Levy because he “generated significant business for the company.”

In response to the Tanner Mainstain counter-suit, James’ attorney told TheWrap, “This is no defense to the complaint’s allegations that Tanner Mainstain name partner Steve Blatt knowingly facilitated, concealed and profited from Mr. Levy’s theft from the corporation. The law doesn’t allow fraudsters to point to the victim and say it’s your fault I duped you.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.