Johnny Depp's Sister and Assistant Dragged Into Business Managers Lawsuit

Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Premiere - Getty - H 2017
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Most lawsuits settle, but the ever-escalating dispute between Johnny Depp and his former business managers doesn't seem to be nearing a cease-fire. In fact, The Management Group has added the star's sister, nephew, personal assistant and several friends as cross-defendants in the legal fight.

Depp in January sued TMG and its principals Joel and Robert Mandel, claiming they engaged in self-dealing, failed to keep proper books and cost him millions in unnecessary tax penalties, among other complaints. TMG countersued two weeks later, alleging the actor's dire financial situation is his own doing, and on Tuesday upped the ante. 

Among Depp's laundry list of complaints against TMG is the allegation that it loaned out millions of his money to third parties without permission. During discovery, the actor identified the people who received that money: his sister, Christi Dembrowski; nephew, William Rassel; personal assistant, Nathan Holmes; and friends James Russo, Jonathan Shaw, Sal Jenco and Bruce Witkin

The managers argue that Depp is seeking to recover the funds from them but hasn't tried to get it back from the people themselves, and they contend that each of the payments were authorized by Depp or Dembrowski and were not formally documented at their direction.

"Depp — at least at the time — thought himself to be a generous person and desired informal arrangements whereby these individuals would pay him back if and when they could," writes TMG attorney Michael Kump in the filing. 

Informal payments like these — including more than $7 million to Dembrowski over the course of 17 years and nearly $737,000 to Holmes to buy and refurbish a home in the U.K. — aren't uncommon for high net-worth individuals, according to the Mandels.

"In his attempt to avoid paying his debts to TMG, Depp is knowingly throwing his closest family, friends and employees under the bus by falsely alleging that they took millions of dollars in unauthorized payments from him," writes Kump. "Depp's closest friends, family and colleagues who have been added as new Cross-Defendants in this action have only Depp to blame for their involvement in this charade."

Depp's lawyers have not yet responded to a request for comment.