LOS ANGELES (CN) – Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier claims his attorneys bungled a trust fund, leaving him with a $9.3 million tax bill to the IRS. Dozier says his lawyers set up a trust that actually increased his tax bill, and they never paid any taxes at all, in order to benefit the trust company, which the lawyers also represented.
Dozier says New York law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher represented him in a 1998 deal with investment bank Fahnestock & Co. Dozier claims Willkie Farr knew about his tax troubles, but hid the tax impact of the trust plan in order to keep collecting steep fees and to earn money for another of its clients, Fahnestock.
Dozier says Willkie and Banker’s Trust set up the deal, which funneled his royalties into the trust and divided it according to a priority-of-payments contract.
Dozier claims Willkie and Banker’s Trust designated his tax payments as the trust’s sixth priority. After paying the unspecified first five priorities, Dozier says there was no money left to pay his taxes.
Willkie and Banker’s Trust knew about the problem from the beginning, Dozier says, but he didn’t find out that the tax debt was piling up until the I.R.S. added even more penalties.
The lawsuit, filed in July, was assigned to U.S. District Judge S. James Otero, and to Magistrate Judge Rosalyn Chapman for discovery.
Dozier is represented by Sanford Passman.
Dozer co-wrote and arranged a slew of hits songs that helped define the Motown sound. He wrote and arranged for the Four Tops, the Supremes, the Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, Martha and the Vandellas and many more top bands.
His hits include “How Sweet it Is (To Be Loved by You),” and “Stop! In the Name of Love.”