November 22, 2011 9:23am PT by Eriq Gardner
Ted Field Claims His Film Company Was Stolen, Forced Into Bankruptcy
Frederick "Ted" Field, a mogul who co-founded Interscope Records, has produced more than 60 films and was named by Forbes as one of the richest people alive, alleges in a blockbuster new lawsuit that his business savvy wasn't enough to stop several individuals from duping him and hijacking his film company, Radar Pictures.
Field filed his lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court and describes how Radar allegedly was taken from his possession and ended up in bankruptcy against his will.
According to the lawsuit, Field met a man named Timothy Batchelor, who told him that he could secure film financing through a matrix of multimillion-dollar funds. Batchelor is said to have held himself out as a financial pro in the entertainment industry, having raised tens of millions of dollars in projects for Dreamworks, Fox Sony, and Disney.
"None of this was true," says Field in his complaint, obtained by THR.
Field, whose films include The Last Samurai, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Jumanji, says he provided Bachelor with office space in 2010, but that his new partner was "rarely at the office" and "did very little to actually raise capital."
Instead, Bachelor is alleged to have become evasive before saying he needed to retain the "sophisticated financial expertise" of Convergence Media, which Fields now asserts was an entity set up to cover Batchelor's legal troubles, tax liens on one Shawn Beswick, and bankruptcies of one Patrick Panzerella.
Together, these individuals are said to have leaned on Radar to sign consulting service agreements and provide financial backing. The three individuals allegedly told Field about their experience raising funding and work in the industry, including $120 million for DreamWorks Animation and work on Fox's hit show Glee.
"As it turns out, none of this was true," says Field again.
Over the next few months, various agreements were allegedly presented to Radar to take advantage of investment opportunities from various billionaires and large funds. In the meantime, Field says that his new consultants were paid tens of thousands of dollars per agreement.
But Field says he soon realized the defendants were not who they said they were, and after Radar refused to make further payments, the defendants "put into action their plan to take over Radar Pictures."
Having been given access to corporate books and business affairs, the defendants allegedly "conspired to produce fraudulent minutes from a meeting of the Board of Directors" in September 2011, and used those minutes to issue themselves an 80 percent stake in the company's outstanding shares.
According to the complaint, Batchelor, Beswick, and Panzerella then tried to oust Radar's board, including Field, fire many executives, and then put the company into bankruptcy. On November 4, Radar filed for voluntary bankruptcy protection, which Field says was an ambush intended to freeze bank accounts, suspend payroll, cause business partners to back out of contracts and cause other damage. At that time, an individual named Donald Ashlock is said to have been given the reins of Radar as the company's new president.
Field filed an emergency motion to dismiss the bankruptcy filing as Ashlock fought back, producing minutes from the supposedly concocted board meeting, as well as making representations that the company needed protection because of litigation and owed rent.
Ashlock is said to have showed up at Radar's office with "an apparent thug" in tow in a claimed attempt to take physical possession of the company. The police were contacted, and before their arrival, Ashlock and his associate "retreated."
But Field says that the intimidation continued through "late-night phone calls and tacitly menacing emails."
Field says he got the bankruptcy filing dismissed after a November 15th hearing, but that "incredibly, later that same day, defendants...filed yet another bankruptcy petition purportedly on behalf of Radar Pictures."
The next morning, the judge is said to have dismissed the petition and precluded any further filing for 180 days until ownership issues on the company could be resolved.
Now, Field, represented by Jonathan Freund, is seeking an injunction preventing the defendants from taking further action over Radar Pictures, including filing for bankruptcy. He wants a judgment declaring his ownership of the corporation and also demands punitive damages of at least $10 million for conspiracy, promissory fraud, abuse of process of fiduciary duty.
We attempted to contact co-defendant John J. Gazelin, the attorney who represented Radar in the original bankruptcy filing. Unfortunately, the phone number that Gazelin listed in the bankruptcy filing as being his sends calls to a law firm that says Gazelin hasn't worked there in over a year and a half. The other defendants couldn't be reached either, but we'll update if we hear anything more.