Fight Over Pianist Roger Williams’ Estate

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – The trustee of the late pop pianist Roger Williams claims in court that Williams’ former business manager refused to hand over financial records, and is trying to take control of the Roger Williams Trust.
     Jacquelyn Heebner, Trustee of the Roger Williams Trust – the sole shareholder of co-plaintiff Virtuoso Inc. – sued William Prappas and The Prappas Co., in Superior Court alleging violations of California’s Business and Professions Code.
     Heebner claims Prappas refused to hand over Williams’ financial records to a trust attorney as the pianist was on his deathbed.
     She claims Prappas also disclosed Williams’ confidential financial information to an attorney who was suing to invalidate the trust on behalf of one of Williams’ two surviving daughters, Alice Jung.
     Jung is not a party to the case. She filed two lawsuits against Heebner this year, according to the complaint. The first seeks to invalidate parts of the trust, and the second accuses Heebner of wrongful death and elder abuse, according to the complaint.
     Prappas was Williams longtime business manager and handled most of the pianist’s business and personal affairs, including preparing tax returns for Williams and Virtuoso, according to the complaint.
     “However, in early 2012, Mr. Williams was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In an effort to get all of his affairs in order, Mr. Williams requested that defendant provide certain information to a trust attorney who was then amending Mr. Williams’ estate plan,” the complaint states.
     “Despite the fact that his client was dying of cancer, defendant failed and refused to provide Mr. Williams with the requested records and data. Mr. Williams was so distressed by defendant’s unresponsiveness, that he diminished a bequest he had intended to provide to defendant, from $50,000 to $20,000, and replaced him as successor trustee of Mr. Williams’ testamentary trust.”
     Heebner says she knew Williams for 77 years, was his personal assistant, and was with him when he died.
     She claims that after Williams died, Prappas aligned himself with Jung and her attorney “in an effort to invalidate the current trust documents in favor of an earlier version that would increase the amount of defendant’s bequest and also make him as trustee of the Roger Williams Trust.”
     “Since Mr. Williams’ death, defendant has refused over 20 different demands made by and on behalf of the Roger Williams Trust to produce the records defendant maintained,” the lawsuit states.
     It adds: “Defendant’s actions abridge his basic duties as a tax preparer and amount to violations that are actually misdemeanors, punishable by both fines and jail time.”
     Williams released dozens of records during his long career. He is best remembered for his version of “Autumn Leaves.” He died at 87 at his Los Angeles home.
     Heebner seeks disgorgement, restitution of compensation paid to Prappas as a tax preparer, and penalties.
     She is represented by Gary Goodstein of Goodstein & Berman.
     Prappas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

%d bloggers like this: