A judge on Friday ordered a memorabilia dealer to stay away from comics legend Stan Lee for three years following allegations of fraud, abuse, and embezzlement.
Keya Morgan has been accused of exploiting his close relationship with the 95-year-old Lee to embezzle artwork, cash, and other assets worth more than $5 million. Lee’s attorney, Jonathan Freund, appeared in court Friday to ask that Morgan be barred from contacting Lee or coming within 100 yards of him.
Commissioner Laura Hymowitz granted the order, and also ordered Morgan not to contact or come near Lee’s daughter, J.C. Lee, or brother Larry Lieber. The order appears to bring some stability to Lee’s living situation, which has been in turmoil since his wife, Joan, died last year.
“Stan is doing pretty well,” Freund said outside court. “He’s working again, and his health is improving. He’s still creating characters.”
Morgan did not appear in court to contest the order. An earlier hearing on the request was delayed because Lee’s attorneys were having difficulty locating Morgan in order to serve him with paperwork.
In court, Freund alleged that Lee and his security guards had witnessed Morgan taking artwork from Lee’s home. Lee is paid in cash for autographs, and Freund alleged that Morgan also took cash.
Morgan is also accused of moving Lee out of his home at midnight on June 8 and taking him to an apartment in an effort to isolate him from his family and other caregivers. Lee was moved back to his home three days later, and Morgan and Lee have not been in contact since then. Morgan is also facing misdemeanor charges for allegedly making false reports to the police.
An earlier attempt to obtain a restraining order against Morgan was rejected when the attorney pursuing the order, Tom Lallas, was accused of acting without Lee’s consent.
Lee is also suing Jerry Olivarez, a former publicist who is accused of draining $1.4 million from his accounts. A $1 billion lawsuit against POW! Entertainment was dropped, and Lee is now working in conjunction with the company he founded and sold last year to Camsing International.
Update: Morgan called Variety on Friday afternoon to give his side of the story. He alleges that Freund never served him with notice of the restraining order, and contends that the allegations against him are “fake, fraudulent news.”
“I dare them to show one single penny that I’ve ever embezzled out of Stan’s bank accounts or anything,” he said. “Stan has never called the police on me. Stan has never asked me not to call him. Stan has never asked me to leave his house… I’d like to know a single thing I’ve done that has been wrong, other than showing love, kindness and compassion.”
Morgan alleges that Lee fired Freund five months ago, and blames J.C. Lee for orchestrating his ouster from Lee’s inner circle.
“I know the daughter is behind it,” he said.