LOS ANGELES (CN) – In the latest development in the estate struggle between the late Ray Charles’ family and the musician’s longtime manager, The Ray Charles Foundation, run by the manager, filed a fraud action against The Ray Charles Legacy Corporation, which is run by Charles’ family.
“This case arises out of the unfortunate yet predictable acts of defendants who have exploited the death of Ray Charles for personal gain through misrepresentation and extortion of Dickensian proportions,” states the federal lawsuit from Charles’ former manager, Joe Adams.
That claim, however, is essentially what the Charles family said about Joe Adams and his foundation in their lawsuit.
Mary Anne Den Bok, the mother of Charles’ youngest son, filed her federal complaint two weeks ago, claiming that Adams has kept Charles’ family from participating in decisions about posthumous music releases, and that Adams has hoarded the money from the estate.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Charles’ children said that their father would not have allowed Adams to release his two posthumous albums of “collaborative songs,” which featured Charles’ vocals mixed with tracks of singers he never actually worked with.
Charles reportedly left $500,000 to each of his 12 children, and gave the rest of his estimated $75 million estate, and licensing rights to his music, to Ray Charles Enterprises. The foundation absorbed Ray Charles Enterprises after Charles’ death.
Adams was investigated in 2006 by the California Attorney General’s Office for serving as president, chairman and treasurer of the foundation all at the same time.
The latest lawsuit, with the foundation as sole plaintiff, alleges that Den Bok and Charles’ youngest child, Ryan Corey Robinson, formed the Ray Charles Legacy Corporation to try to steal the licensing rights to Charles’ music from the foundation.
“Defendants’ actions are not based on any genuine belief that the children of Ray Charles have any rights in the Ray Charles Intellectual Property, but are simply the latest in a series of acts intended to extort funds from The Foundation despite Ray Charles’ clearly articulated intention of what his children were to inherit upon his death,” the complaint states. “Indeed, Defendants are well aware that, prior to his death, Mr. Charles conveyed all of his intellectual property rights to RCE and none to any of his children.”
The foundation demands declaratory relief and treble damages. It is represented by Randall Leff with Ervin, Cohen & Jessup.