LOS ANGELES (CN) - An elderly actor claims in court that a fellow actor and French percussionist Robin DiMaggio took $300,000 from him for a "Give Back to the Amazon" concert that never took place.
Myron Natwick sued DiMaggio, DiMaggio International, Kurt Kelly, Robert McCarthy, and a slew of alleged co-conspirators in Superior Court on March 24.
Natwick is an Oregon-born actor, producer and screenwriter with a long career on the stage, television and silver screen, including appearances in "Three Days of the Condor" and "Days of Our Lives."
DiMaggio, a Paris-born percussionist based in Los Angeles, has worked with Diana Ross, Dr. Dre, David Bowie, Paul Simon and Ravi Shankar. He has no apparent relation with the American baseball player.
Defendant Kelly is a well-known voice-over actor in movies, video games, television and radio. He has worked with the United Nations on programs such as Rock for the Americas Live UNICEF and "Phil Collins: One More Night," and has promoted numerous charities, including St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, PBS, Disaster Relief, and Green Peace.
Natwick claims the defendants took advantage of his age and fame by inducing him to loan them $300,000 for a concert supposedly backed by the United Nations.
"On or about October 2012, defendants Kelly and McCarthy contacted plaintiff, a life-long entertainer, to ask for a meeting to discuss what they described as an opportunity to perform in front of over one billion viewers, help the planet, and make a significant amount of money quickly, with no risk, while doing it. Plaintiff accepted the initiation and was told by Kelly and McCarthy about a U.N.-organized 'save the rainforest' concert that they were organizing and for which they needed a loan from plaintiff," the 25-page complaint states.
The purported concert, the "Give Back to the Amazon Project," was to be sponsored by the U.N. Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Organization (IREO) and set for Oct. 12-13, 2013, in Belem, Brazil, according to the complaint.
After the first meeting, Natwick says, the defendants suggested he finance his Long Beach house through McCarthy's company, Olympia Financial Mortgage, and use the proceeds to make an $800,000 loan for the concert, but he refused to sign the paperwork.
DiMaggio then sent him a letter on IREO letterhead, claiming the defendants were authorized to plan the concern on the U.N.'s behalf and to enter financial agreements to fund it, according to the complaint.
Based on the seemingly official letterhead and continued pressure from the defendants, Natick says, he agreed to lend $300,000 for the concert at 10 percent annual interest, payable in six months. He says the agreement stipulated that the defendants would, at their cost, take out a $950,000 insurance policy and pay Natwick $25,000 to cover expenses related to the loan.
In exchange, Natwick says, the defendants told him he would receive a VIP package for himself and a guest for airfare, hotel, meals, tickets and backstage passes for the concert, an award to be presented at the concert, and the chance to give a 2½-minute presentation to a live audience of 100,000 and a televised audience of 1 billion.
But Natick says the concert "was not actually being planned," that none of the defendants were working with the U.N., but were "seeking to mislead plaintiff so that they could wrongfully take his money."
"Based on the credibility of the individual defendants, which was further reinforced by their mutual cooperation, plaintiff had little or no indication that he was being targeted for exploitation until after they had his money. Kelly and DiMaggio both have experience working in the entertainment industry with non-government organizations, including DiMaggio's current role as musical director for the U.N.," the complaint states.
Defendant Mark Dagel actually works for the U.N. as an undersecretary for the IREO; defendant Kenneth Greene is an attorney who has worked with an unspecified but "well-known entertainment law firm" and has worked for the IREO as its director of legal affairs; and defendant Robson Mello was secretary-general of the IREO, according to the complaint.
Mello died in April 2015 and is being sued here through his estate.
Natwick says the $70,076 in fees with an interest rate of 10 percent and a one-year balloon that the defendants forced on him were "grossly excessive," unnecessary, and designed to maximize the money they took from him.
Two months after the checks cleared escrow and were sent to the defendants in March 2013, they told him the rainforest concert was no longer taking place but reassured him that a different charitable event would take its place, according to the complaint.
Natwick says he finally realized he'd been had late that August when the U.N. sent a reply letter in response to his inquiry, informing him that the IREO was not affiliated with the U.N. He says he also found out that DiMaggio had taken the $100,000 check paid to the IREO as part of the loan and put the word "donation" on it to make it look like Natwick did not expect repayment.
Natwick has had to take out a reverse mortgage on his house to repay the loan, and has lost the property he set aside for his retirement and for his personal and family care, he says in the complaint.
None of the defendants immediately returned emailed requests for comment on Monday.
Natwick wants his $300,000 returned, compensation for the time and money he spent trying to get his money back, an order voiding his agreement with the defendants, and punitive, exemplary, and treble damages for financial elder abuse, intentional misrepresentation, conversion, breach of written contract, and rescission.
He is represented by James Fedalen with the HFL Law Group of Encino.
Here are the defendants: Kurt Kelly; Robin Dimaggio; Dimaggio International, Inc.; Mark Dagel; Robert McCarthy; Jeff Aronson; Olympia Financial Mortgage, Inc.; Robson R. Mello; Estate of Robson R. Mello; Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Organization; Daaus Funding, Inc.; Kenneth Greene; and Hamrick and Evans, LLP.
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