Tangled Snarl Over Sly Stone Royalties


     LOS ANGELES (CN) - The successors of Sly Stone's late manager Ken Roberts sued BMI this week, claiming that the psychedelic funk musician's attorney "procured faithless and fraudulent" instructions to take the manager's share of royalties while the manager was heavily medicated and suffering from acute kidney failure.
     Ken Roberts' successor Virginia Pope, and Majoken Inc. sued Broadcast Music in Superior Court on Wednesday, alleging breach of contract and negligence.
     Pope wants $666,112.20 in damages and asks the court to void the instructions to pay the Allan Law Group the late Robert's cut of royalties.
     Roberts, former owner of California rock radio station KROQ-FM, died at 73 on May 22 in New York City.
     Sly and Family Stone front man Sly Stone (Sylvester Stewart) is not a party to the lawsuit. Nor are the Allan Law Group or attorney Robert J. Allan.
     Pope claims that Sly Stone agreed to assign his BMI royalties to Majoken Inc.'s predecessor, Ken Roberts Enterprises, after Roberts won a $565,739.89 judgment against Sly Stone in 1975 for unpaid loans.
     "Plaintiffs' entitlement to the BMI Royalties arise from a 1976 irrevocable assignment, which irrevocably assigned the BMI royalties to Roberts, and a 1979 payment direction from Sylvester Stewart in favor of Majoken Inc.," the complaint states.
     Roberts gave up asking about the status of his BMI royalties after the Internal Revenue Service placed a multimillion levy on Sly Stone's assets, Pope says in the complaint.
     In 2010, Allan filed a lawsuit against later manager Gerald Goldstein, on Sly Stone's behalf, claiming the manager had left the musician penniless by stealing $80 million in licensing fees, royalties and income.
     Roberts, who managed the singer in the '70s and '80s, loaned Sly Stone $2,000 in 2009, Pope says. That was after Sly Stone's assistant told Roberts that the singer had been duped into assigning all of the former's manager's royalty rights to Goldstein, who allegedly set up a company with no affiliation to Roberts, Even St. Majoken, to divert Sly Stone's BMI royalties, according to the new lawsuit.
     In January 2010, Pope says Allan emailed and called Roberts while he was being treated in hospital for acute kidney failure, representing that the manager needed to sign a declaration for the lawsuit against Goldstein.
     "Roberts was on heavy medication, was disoriented and had no ability to concentrate. In addition, Roberts has diabetic retinopathy, which can make it hard to read. Roberts requires reading glasses," the 16-page lawsuit states.
     Pope says that Allan faxed a copy of the declaration to the hospital and added provisions that had not been negotiated or discussed. Namely, that Sly Stone no longer owed any money to his former manager, and that Roberts was instructing BMI to pay royalties to Allan Law Group in trust for Sly Stone, she claims.
     According to Pope, the hospital room was "dimly lit" and Roberts was not wearing his glasses when he signed the declaration.
     "On information and belief, on January 15, 2010, only two days after Roberts executed and delivered the retainer agreement and conflict waiver agreement to ALG, BMI wired $66,112.20 into the ALG [Allan Law Group ] client trust account 'representing royalties due and owing.' Neither Allan nor BMI disclosed to Roberts ALG's receipt of this money from BMI, nor did ALG turn over to Roberts any portion of this money," the complaint states.
     According to Pope, BMI sent two $250,000 advances on future royalty payments to the Allan Law Group without notifying Roberts.
     "BMI breached its duties and acted negligently by wrongfully paying to ALG the sum of $666,112.20," the complaint states.
     Pope and Majoken seek a declaration that they are entitled to the royalties, and they want the money.
     They are represented by Jay Spillane with Spillane Trial Group of Sherman Oaks.