You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

L.A. Times Publisher’s Lawyer Was Accused of Extorting Mel Gibson

The attorney who negotiated a $2.5 million exit package for L.A. Times publisher Davan Maharaj was previously accused of using secret recordings to extort actor Mel Gibson.

Surreptitious recordings also figure in the Maharaj case. NPR reported on Wednesday that Maharaj taped Tronc chairman Michael Ferro. According to the report, Ferro was heard on the recordings referring to a “Jewish cabal” that runs Los Angeles. The report stated the Maharaj was able to use the recordings as “ammunition” in the settlement talks.

According to NPR, a retired judge who reviewed Ferro’s recorded remarks suggested that Tronc settle the case to avoid public embarrassment.

Maharaj’s attorney, Eric George, disputed that interpretation, saying in a statement on Wednesday that Maharaj was compensated for his 30 years of service to the Times.

“We reject any assertion that Davan received any payments to keep information secret,” George said.

The situation recalls the contentious fight between Gibson and his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, in 2010. George represented Grigorieva, who had made recordings of Gibson, in which he called her a “whore” and a “c—” and suggested that she should be “raped by a pack of n—ers.”

According to reporting at the time, George alluded to the tapes in a conference with Gibson’s lawyers, saying “It would ruin his career if this got out.” In another meeting, George reportedly played one of the recordings for Gibson’s lawyers and asked for a settlement worth $20 million.

Gibson accused Grigorieva of extortion, and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department investigated the case. In March 2011, prosecutors opted not to file charges. Griegorieva reached a $16 million deal with Gibson in May 2010, but the agreement fell apart and the recordings were later leaked to Radar Online.

The L.A. Times published a front-page article on the case in February 2011, and a follow-up the next month. At the time, Maharaj was managing editor of the paper.

Maharaj was later promoted to editor and executive vice president of the paper, and then to editor-in-chief and publisher before he was fired in 2017. He subsequently hired George to pursue negotiations with Tronc.

Eric George declined to comment.

More Biz

  • State of Pride Full

    How Hollywood Is (and Isn't) Getting Better at LGBTQ Inclusion

    Brandon Flynn, one of the breakout actors from Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why,” has spent the last two years fielding questions about his personal life. In 2017, he wrote a passionate post on Instagram, advocating for an Australian vote that allowed for same-sex marriage. Soon enough, news sites such as HuffPost and E! News were reporting [...]

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Harvey Weinstein Reneged on Payoff to HR Director, Suit Claims

    The former Human Resources director of the Weinstein Co. filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, claiming he never received a $450,000 payout he was promised in the wake of the New York Times’ expose in October 2017. Frank Gil alleges that Weinstein promised him the money on Oct. 6, the day after the Times’ story ran. [...]

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Attorney for Universal Music Artists Impacted by 2008 Fire Requests Inventory

    Following on its statements last week that it will be filing a lawsuit on behalf of several Universal Music recording artists impacted by a 2008 fire that destroyed a huge number of master recordings, a Los Angeles law firm has requested a “complete inventory” from the company. Addressed to UMG CEO and chairman Lucian Grainge, [...]

  • Charles Caldas To Step Down as

    Charles Caldas To Step Down as Merlin CEO

    Charles Caldas, the only CEO that the independent-label collective Merlin has ever known, announced today that he will step down from his post at the end of 2019, after more than 12 years at the helm of the global rights organization. He will continue his current duties until then and work with the Merlin board to [...]

  • Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Global indie-label collective Merlin reported record distributions in its 2019 membership report, paying $845 million to label and distributor members between April 2018 and March of this year. That figure, a 63% year-over-year increase, includes more than $130 million paid out this year from non-royalty income — and included in that figure is the estimated [...]

  • Dwyane Wade on Supporting His Son

    NBA Star Dwyane Wade on Supporting His Son's Attendance at Miami Pride

    NBA star Dwyane Wade spoke to Variety about why it was important for him to support his younger son attending a pride parade last spring. In April, Wade’s then 11-year-old son Zion posted pictures of himself at Miami Pride, with his siblings and stepmother Gabrielle Union. Wade, who was on the road with the Miami [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content