Transcript of a January 29, 2015 proceedings shows how the MJ Estate vs. Tohme lawsuits are getting more and more heated. Below you will find sections of what the lawyers have said during a January 29 hearing to the judge.
First the issue of whether Tohme is a “doctor” or “mister” was raised.
Howard Weitzman (Estate lawyer): I make a point out of referring to Mr. Tohme as “Mr. Tohme” because he’s not a doctor. You (the court) actually asked Mr. Malingagio if it was appropriate to refer to him as “doctor” or “mister” and he responded to you “doctor”. He’s not a doctor, unless he or Mr. Malingagio want to get up and represent he is a doctor. Now maybe he is Dr. J, or he is Doc Rivers or he is Doc Brown from “Back to the future” but he’s not a doctor by degree.
Weitzman continues to explain in the interrogatories they asked Tohme to list all of the schools he attended and the degrees he received.
Weitzman (Estate lawyer): Tohme responds as follows “Tohme attended several colleges and quit to pursue self education.” Bachelorette – or however you pronounce it- Institute of Al Masri Beirut Lebanon was the school attended. He got that degree, which by the way is an equivalent of a high school degree. Pepperdine University, 1972 No degree. Cal State University at Los Angeles 1973 No degree. Glendale City College 1974 No degree. Now nothing wrong with failing to get a degree. Nothing wrong with going to junior college, or Pepperdine or Cal State. Nothing wrong with any of that. Not a doctor, again unless you know you are Doc Holliday, not a doctor.
Tohme’s lawyer responds :
Mr. Malingagio (Tohme’s lawyer): You asked me “is it mister or doctor?” I said “doctor”. I’ve known Dr. Tohme for 5 years. I never called him anything other than Dr. Tohme or Tohme. That’s how I refer to him. That’s what I meant when I responded to your honor.
Later on the discussion turns the money Tohme had in his possession when Michael died.
Weitzman (Estate lawyer): Estate was bankrupt when Michael died. Our first meeting involved “What assets shall we sell? How are we going to do this?” Hayvenhurst was being foreclosed on. And the only money available was in Mr. Tohme’s possession. He had it. I can tell you the conversations I had with Mr. Tohme. And I remember him putting off meetings and putting off meetings. I remember the letter from John Branca. I remember saying to him in the letter, “Hey, If you don’t give us the money, we are going to have to go to court”.
Now at that time Mr. Modabber is going to get to this in just a moment, at that time the money was in Mr. Tohme’s personal savings account. Michael had terminated him. And he chose to not believe it, as you can see. But Michael had terminated Mr. Tohme in April. And there are letters that went to him in May to return the money. But he was fighting to stay in as Michael’s manager. And he has, I guess, the right to do that, fight to stay in, even though there was another manager was appointed. When Michael died he still had the money. We also learned early on that Mr. Tohme had personal property that belonged to Michael Jackson that we didn’t think he should have.
Another Estate lawyer Zia Modabber joins to the discussion to explain more about the situation.
Zia Modabber (Estate lawyer): Early on in these proceedings, you (the court) asked “what do you have?” Because Mr. Malingagio had been standing up saying “Your honor, they smeared the good name of my client. They’ve accused of him of all of these things”. What I said to you was, it was very early on before we had done all our investigation, here’s what we know. In 1999 he had gone though a bankruptcy. He had come out with nothing. And everything we learned since then shows he didn’t have a job or gainful employment or have any assets until he met Mr. Jackson. And around the time he met Mr. Jackson, he bought multimillion dollar homes and started driving Bentleys.
In a response to that Mr. Malingagio said to you the following “wait a minute, what are they saying about my client? You filed bankruptcy in 1999. We told them and they know because they have the papers, that was an involuntary bankruptcy filed against somebody whose name was different than Tohme’s and it was summarily dismissed in 1999. In other words, the case of mistaken identity”.
Over summarily? Not quite. It was a four year slog through the bankruptcy court where Mr. Tohme , the findings of fact of the judge were that he had manipulated and an extraordinary case of manipulating the bankruptcy system, had lied repeatedly and violated court orders.
Let me give you a taste of it. The bankruptcy was an involuntary Chapter 7. Involuntary means a third party creditor. A1 Collections put Mr. Tohme in bankruptcy. A1 Collections the Court found is actually Mr.Tohme himself because he was being sued by multiple creditors; one a bank who I believe was accusing him of fraud. And he wanted to take advantage of the bankruptcy stay. So he put himself into an involuntary bankruptcy and when he did so he deliberately misspelled his name. He spelled – these are all findings of the bankruptcy court – he spelled his name as Tohmme instead of Tohme. And he altered his social security number. And the judge concluded that he did that because when he longer wanted to be in the bankruptcy and gotten what he had wanted from the stay he could say “that’s not me, case of mistaken identity”. That’s exactly what he did. And he judge caught him on it and wrote the order and the findings and fact he wrote.
Then Zia Modabber explains what they know about the money that was in Tohme’s possession.
Zia Modabber: We served an interrogatory saying “identify each and every bank account into and out of which Michael Jackson’s money went though”. They very carefully responded in a through answer as you can provide. Every bank account, I believe there were 16 of them, with the address for every bank and with the account number for every one of them.
Unfortunately what they missed is that somehow amongst the tens of thousands of pages of documents that were produced there was this one piece of paper, a deposit slip. And we were working with a consultant on these bank accounts and trying to get all of the bank statements and figure out what had gone on.
Modabber explains the process they had to go though to get a subpoena and see that account which turns out to be Tohme’s personal savings account. He later adds:
Zia Modabber (Estate lawyer): At least he (Tohme) had originally directed that $5 Million from Sony go into that personal savings account. Sony caught it and said “We aren’t doing that, we aren’t sending money to your personal savings account”. Their(Tohme and his lawyers) explanation was Michael Jackson, who unfortunately isn’t here to respond, “Michael told me to put in my personal savings account”. (That transfer) doesn’t happen. The next couple of transfers, they do somehow go into his personal savings account. And we find out only because, they didn’t tell us in their responses, they didn’t tell us anywhere else. We happened to stumble upon a piece of paper and issued a subpoena. We would not know but for the 850 motion he took a million and half dollar and comingled it with his own personal savings.
Tohme’s lawyer responds
Mr. Malingagio (Tohme’s lawyer): The $5.5 million. What Mr. Weitzman did not state is that nobody knew the $5.5 Million existed. My client, Dr. Tohme, came forward directly after Michael’s death and identified the fact he had the money and explored the possibilities of what is he going to do with that money. He raised it with the Estate. He told them it existed. Got a pretty nasty demand letter from Mr. Weitzman about turning over the money and in fact he did turn over the money. That was the first moneys that the Estate had.
The 850 petition and the personal property. I heard a lot of really unpleasant things about my client. A lot of speculation. A lot of hearsay and conclusions drawn from documents they read. What are their allegations? A bankruptcy was filed. He bought a house, he bought a car. That is all they say. There’s not one allegation that any of those assets were purchased with Michael Jackson’s money. I have still not heard one statement that he has any money belonging to Michael Jackson, nor any property. Nor have I ever received since this lawsuit was filed a demand to return any property that after their years and years of investigation they claim. And if they find something, if there’s something we missed, or if they think there is something, send me a letter. Call me up on the phone “Hey we think your client might have this or that. Does he? Let’s talk about it”. Not once they have said that.
Also in one comment Tohme’s lawyer Malingagio questions why these topics were brought up during the hearing and says “I don’t know, maybe there are people from the press here that he (Weitzman) wants those people to hear what he had to say. I don’t know”. Weitzman on the other hand has explained his reasoning to bring up these issues as “Last week there were two things that happened that disturbed me personally. I would like the opportunity to put it in the record”.
Despite Malingagio’s concerns this hearing wasn’t reported by the press however the transcript of the proceedings was added to a motion of protective order filed on March 18, 2015 making it accessible by the fans and public. In this post I provided what both sides said and rather than writing a summary I opted to provide their exact words for fair reporting. For the time being these are just claims which aren’t proven or decided either way. Every reader would form their own opinions. In the future, we will probably see more specific information about these claims. It also looks like as the case progresses, it would get more and more interesting.