In Non-Trump Lawsuit, Trump Lawyer Accuses Trump Friend of Obstruction

Marvel Entertainment chairman Isaac Perlmutter is accused of perjury, threatening an investigator, stealing privileged documents, hiding evidence, and more.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Isaac "Ike" Perlmutter

Marc Kasowitz is busy defending Donald Trump from an investigation into possible obstruction of justice. On Friday, the president tweeted confirmation that he is indeed being investigated.

Meanwhile, Kasowitz continues to represent Toronto businessman Harold Peerenboom in a bizarre feud with Isaac Perlmutter, chairman of Marvel Entertainment. Peerenboom blames Perlmutter, a friend of Trump's, for being responsible for a series of anonymous mailings a half-decade ago.

On May 30, Perlmutter trumpeted the discovery of a package that was sent from Canada to Florida and intercepted by Customs and Border Protection agents. The package, according to his bombshell filing, included a "hate mail kit" sent by someone else which Perlmutter hoped would vindicate him from Peerenboom's allegations.

Maybe wishful thinking.

Kasowitz and other attorneys at his firm have now filed a blistering response to Perlmutter, and in a motion for sanctions, Peerenboom's side accuses the Marvel chairman of bad acts including false representations in pleadings, obtaining stolen files, threatening a police investigator, pressuring Florida elected officials, and more. The sanctions bid speaks of Perlmutter's activity to "undermine the integrity of this proceeding and to bring disrepute on the legal system."

The filing perhaps showcases the kinds of activity that Trump's lawyer believes is worthy of punishment.

In Peerenboom's lawsuit, filed in 2013, Perlmutter and his wife Laura are blamed for a nasty smear campaign. The first round of hate mail largely consisted of news reports about the the politics of Peerenboom, the founder of multinational executive search firm Mandrake Management. More hate mail accused Peerenboom of being a child rapist, a Nazi, and someone who was going to tell the mothers of thousands of prisoners the true nature of their children.

Perlmutter has filed a cross-complaint over the surreptitious collection of his DNA. Here's more background on this nasty, complicated feud, which began after Peerenboom interfered with Perlmutter's enjoyment of a tennis court in a swanky waterfront Palm Beach complex known as Sloan's Curve.

Late last month, The Hollywood Reporter covered Perlmutter's revelation of the "hate mail kit," the one that Perlmutter hoped would put the dispute to an end. Perlmutter's filing included word that Canadian federal authorities had identified the sender as David Smith, a former employee at Mandrake. Smith's lawyer told THR at the time that his client wasn't connected to the hate mailings.

Roy Black, Perlmutter's attorney, nevertheless claimed in last month's filing that Peerenboom and Smith had teamed up to frame Perlmutter in an "extortion scheme." What's more, Black wrote how Kasowitz possibly knew that "David Smith was responsible for the hate-mail campaign from the start," and yet hid this information and continued to file accusatory motions including a recent one that claimed Marvel employees participated in the hate mail campaign.

Peerenboom's side didn't like the filing at all — nor the THR story about it, especially because it came, in their words, when Kasowitz "is at the pinnacle of his career, … which now includes having been selected to serve as personal counsel to the U.S. President in a matter of international import."

In an opposition to the filing and a cross-motion for sanctions, Kasowitz and his colleague Michael Bowen seize on a portion of Perlmutter's filing that acknowledged how the Marvel chairman and his assistant had in 2011 disseminated articles published about Peerenboom. Perlmutter insists these early mailings contained documents "publicly available and true," and thus not defamatory, but Kasowitz sees it as a "confession."

"To distract attention from the significance of their confession, their motion is rife with scandalous and baseless accusations about Peerenboom and his counsel that have nothing to do with the mundane discovery relief sought," write Kasowitz and Bowen. "Through that misdirection, they hoped to trigger a news media blitz and to obscure the fact that their confession comes only after many years of a cover-up. For years, they lied about their involvement in the anonymous hate mail, tried to hide documents and inculpating emails, and tried to cover it up through false legal filings, coercing and intimidating witnesses and suborning purjury. They also lied to the police."

Peerenboom's attorneys play down the significance of the alleged "hate mail kit" package, saying there's "a lot that is yet unknown and highly suspicious about the package" while adding it's "lunacy" for Perlmutter's attorney to conclude Smith is the "culprit" and that the Kasowitz team engaged in a criminal extortion conspiracy. They assert that Perlmutter's filing is a "pretense" to stop Laura Perlmutter from an uncomfortable deposition in light of what they've recently discovered.

The sanctions bid then attempts to showcase "proof of the Perlmutters' deceit."

It starts with Perlmutter's admission of what was sent in 2011.

"No amount of spin, however false, can cover up the fact that this confession was made years too late, after years of denials by the Perlmutters in which they falsely claimed to have no connection at all with Peerenboom or to the anonymous mail about him," states Peerenboom's filing.

Perlmutter's deposition is quoted. The Marvel chairman once said under oath, "I don't know anything about your client [Peerenboom]."

The Kasowitz team calls this a fraud.

"Two years before this testimony, he and his wife directed Marvel investigators to dig up dirt on Peerenboom and then sent an anonymous mailing of derogatory and negative news articles about him," they write.

Other examples are given of alleged omissions, misrepresentations and manipulation of the legal proceeding. The Perlmutters are accused, for example, of having "aggressively threatened" a Palm Beach Police Detective, who then according to Peerenboom, "backed off the case" of the hate mail. 

"They also lobbied the detective's PBPD supervisors and the State's Attorney, including enlisting Marvel's legal counsel, John Turitzin, to emplore wealthy constituents to pressure Florida elected officials," states the filing.

This refers to a Turitzin email in 2016 to Norman Braman, the politically connected former owner of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. In that message, attached as an exhibit, Turitzin appears to be attempting to get legislators involved in the recent passage of Florida's DNA theft law to pressure the State Attorney's office to do something about Peerenboom's collection of Perlmutter's DNA at a 2013 deposition.

Other cited misconduct includes how the Perlmutters were allegedly involved in an illicit effort to obtain Peerenboom's private and privileged documents. Supposedly, Karen Donnelly — who ran the tennis courts at Sloan's Curve and is close to Perlmutter — approached a former Sloan's Curve employee to "steal" documents from Peerenboom  and then obtained them in a "secret meeting in a parking lot."

These documents are said to have made their way to Perlmutters' investigators. The lawyer for the Perlmutters then allegedly failed to provide notice he had possession of them. According to the sanctions filing, "Instead, they tried to hide the documents, improperly logging them as privileged and refusing to permit their investigators to answer questions about them at their depositions."

Peerenboom is now demanding punishment for all of this, plus for allegedly fomenting "salacious and false" press coverage. (The filing accuses Black of having "planted" THR's article, but point of fact, we were already in the midst of investigating an update to the Perlmutter/Peerenboom feud when the filing about the "hate mail kit" package was made. In fact, we initiated contact with both sides in the days leading up to last month's filing.)

The plaintiff is demanding the judge deny a motion to delay Perlmutter's deposition and strike the Marvel chairman's answer and counterclaim in the dispute. He also wants attorney's fees and further relief.

Kasowitz makes the motion on behalf of Peerenboom as intrigue about the Trump investigation continues. Some politicians and legal observers are making the case that the president interfered with an investigation into Russia collusion in last year's election by attempting to get FBI chief James Comey to back off and by ultimately firing him.

As political observers follow what's happening in D.C., and as Kasowitz responds to new information in the press about the Trump investigation, attorneys at his firm will be in Palm Beach on June 22 for a hearing about the sanctions bid in the Perlmutter case.

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