Britney Spears Gets Full Fortune Back, Heads to Trial Against Dad
Lawyers for both the pop star and her father pushed for an evidentiary hearing regarding Jamie Spears’ conduct during Britney’s conservatorship — and a Los Angeles judge agreed
Britney Spears will soon have her full fortune back as she heads to a trial against her dad.
At a heated hearing in a Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday, lawyers for the pop star and her dad Jamie Spears clashed over whether she should regain full control of her estimated $60 million empire and whether Jamie placed a listening device in her bedroom.
The only thing they could agree on was that an evidentiary hearing is needed. Judge Brenda Penny agreed, saying she hoped they could complete discovery over the next six months so she could transfer them to a trial courtroom at a hearing set for July 27.
In one fiery exchange, Britney’s lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, accused Jamie’s lawyer, Alex Weingarten, of sidestepping the issue of “whether or not his client knew about electronic eavesdropping on my client,” including “the placing of a listening device in the bedroom of my client.”
“Didn’t happen, your honor,” Weingarten shot back, cutting Rosengart off after alleging earlier during the hearing that perhaps Rosengart “planted” the story about the listening device in the New York Times.
“He just made accusations that are disgraceful, and he should be ashamed. He says it didn’t happen? Let’s see what Mr. Spears says under oath when he’s deposed,” Rosengart said.
Speaking to Rolling Stone after the hearing, Rosengart said the surveillance issue “is directly relevant to the issue of whether Mr. Spears would be entitled to any additional money.”
The lawyers also sparred Wednesday over a request that a chunk of Britney’s financial estate remain in a reserve account until the planned trial resolves how much Jamie, his lawyers, and various other people still seeking payment related to her recently terminated conservatorship should receive.
Rosengart argued his client deserved full access to her funds had no plans to “dissipate assets in order to avoid any order” from the court. “The money is not going to a Swiss bank account, but it is her money,” he said.
“Let’s remember why this conservatorship existed in the first place, because Ms. Spears was irresponsible with, among other things, her money. It’s relevant to issue of whether or not her money will be available,” Weingarten replied, leading Rosengart to call the comment “highly inappropriate.”
“Let’s not go down that road,” Judge Penny said before clearing the way for all assets still in the conservatorship estate to be transferred back to Britney herself. “I’m not going to order a reserve.”
Before the afternoon hearing ended, Weingarten said Jamie planned to file a motion to “unseal” the conservatorship case files so he could “vindicate” himself in the face of “demonstrably false” accusations. “We ask that the public actually get the truth,” Weingarten said.
“We don’t think a father who loves his daughter is going to move to unseal her health records in order to defend his own reputation,” Rosengart countered, calling the proposed motion “ethically, morally and legally inappropriate.”
The pop star was freed from her nearly 14-year conservatorship on Nov. 12 after blowing the doors off the legal arrangement with back-to-back statements to Judge Penny in June and July. In her live addresses heard around the world, the “Toxic” singer said her conservatorship, largely controlled by her father, was “cruel” and “abusive” as it dictated her finances, health care, and personal life for most of her adult life.
Once she hired Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor, she started an aggressive campaign to investigate claims her dad mismanaged her millions and used “bullying conduct” to keep her in line.
She and Rosengart hired the accounting and intelligence firm Kroll for a forensic review of the controversial conservatorship, and last Friday filed new paperwork summarizing the probe so far. In a sworn statement, Kroll executive Sherine Ebadi, a ex-FBI agent, said she found a “pattern of misconduct” that raises possible “criminal implications.”
Most notably, she said she personally debriefed Britney’s former security staffer, Alex Vlasov, at the Hotel Bel-Air and found him to be “highly credible.” Vlasov is the whistleblower who previously told the New York Times that his former boss Edan Yemini, CEO of Black Box Security, placed a secret listening device in Britney’s bedroom in 2016 and used surveillance technology that captured the singer’s privileged communications with her lawyer.
“Mr. Vlasov regularly overheard Mr. Yemini updating Mr. Spears on the contents of the phone devices used by his daughter,” Ebadi wrote in her statement.
“Mr. Yemeni and Black Box have always conducted themselves within professional, ethical, and legal bounds, and they are particularly proud of their work in keeping Ms. Spears safe for many years,” Yemini’s civil lawyer Shawn Holley previously told Rolling Stone.
From Rolling Stone US.