An explosive new court filing alleges Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos and his mother “plundered” tens of millions of dollars from ailing team owner Peter Angelos, bought a greater share of the franchise and shielded assets from potential creditors.
The allegations were made by Peter Angelos’ younger son, Louis Angelos, in an updated lawsuit against his brother and mother. They depict an alleged scheme in which, in the five years since the patriarch fell ill and became incapacitated, John and Georgia Angelos “systematically drained” a bank account that held more than $65 million, leaving about $400,000 as of several months ago.
“Peter’s wife, Georgia, and his son, John, have failed him, shirked their responsibilities and breached their legal duties, in multiple, catastrophic ways,” according to the amended complaint filed Monday in Baltimore County Circuit Court by attorneys for Louis Angelos.
The filing says mother and son secretly bought additional shares of the team from another member of the Baltimore Orioles Limited Partnership that, with Peter Angelos as the majority investor, owns the team.
Neither the amount of the shares nor the seller is identified, although it is apparently a woman. The current partnership includes two women by name, Wanda King, the first wife of the late author Tom Clancy, and Pam Shriver, the former tennis star. It also includes estates and a foundation that could include or be represented by women.
The investor “expressed an interest in selling a portion of her ownership in the Orioles,” according to the filing, and in December 2021, Georgia Angelos and John Angelos “approved the purchase of her stock.” The filing goes on to say Louis Angelos, 53, believes his father’s assets “were used to borrow funds for the purchase.
“Peter received no benefit from this transaction, but was forced to incur the debt,” the filing states.
Steven D. Silverman, who represents John Angelos, said Tuesday in an email: “Defense counsel will respond to the latest round of falsehoods and fabrications in due course.”
Former state Attorney General Doug Gansler, who represents Georgia Angelos, decried in a text both Louis Angelos’ suit against his own family members and now the new filing’s “vicious false accusations.
“These desperate allegations do nothing to salvage his misguided case,” he said.
Louis Angelos’ attorney, Jeffrey E. Nusinov, declined to comment.
The family’s legal battle is escalating at a time when team leadership faces several major decisions, from whether to extend its lease to continue playing at Camden Yards to boosting its ranks of mostly young players with higher-priced talent to become more competitive on the field.
Earlier this month, John Angelos deflected questions about the impact of the family legal battle on the future of the Orioles — the litigation revealed Georgia Angelos sought to sell the team — while promising to provide answers at a meeting with the media that has yet to be held.
The new filing also alleges that John Angelos, 55, and Georgia Angelos, 81, transferred assets from Peter Angelos, 93, “to insulate them” from potential creditors that could include former clients of his law firm. Peter Angelos’ decades-old Baltimore law firm won hundreds of millions of dollars over the years on behalf of steelworkers and others harmed by asbestos.
Of the $65 million that was in a Wells Fargo account in Peter Angelos’ name in October 2017, when his health began declining, the largest single transfer, $26.75 million, went to a checking account held by his wife, the filing said. “The bulk” of that was transferred immediately after a group of clients filed a malpractice suit against Peter Angelos and his law firm in 2021, to shield assets from a potential judgment, the filing alleges.
According to the filing, the clients’ suit stems from a 1992 case in which a company, MCIC, was found liable for workmen injured at sites where it installed asbestos-containing insulation. The company’s insurers swore in affidavits that they could cover only $12 million worth of claims, prompting the Angelos firm settle for that amount.
“The affidavits were false,” the filing said, and in 2005, Angelos sued on behalf of about 8,000 plaintiffs “claiming that they had been defrauded by the insurers.” But those claims were dismissed for coming after the statute of limitations expired. The Angelos firm appealed, but in September 2017, the state’s highest court declined to hear the case.
The next month, Peter Angelos had a heart attack and underwent successful cardiac surgery, but by the following summer he ended his storied legal career. He eventually became too ill to manage his affairs.
The new filing depicts John Angelos as an aggrieved son who felt underappreciated and underpaid by his father. It quotes from so-called manifestoes that John Angelos wrote, including one from March 3, 2015, in which he says he’s created hundreds of millions of dollars of cash flow and wealth for the family’s companies yet his salary never exceeded $175,000 at the Orioles or $225,000 at Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, also known as MASN.
He wrote he was “severely” underpaid, “notwithstanding my vast experience in managing team operations and my diversity of in depth and hands on experience in sports and in media business expertise and a combined skill set unparalleled among any Mlb [Major League Baseball] chief executives.”
Peter Angelos’ disability provided, the filing said, “an opening to obtain the recognition, power and compensation that he believed was his due.”
With his mother, who serves as Peter Angelos’ attorney-in-fact, rubber-stamping and sometimes even signing documents without reading them, John Angelos was able to remove his brother and another official as directors of Baltimore Orioles Inc., the team’s general managing entity that conducted oversight of the Orioles, the filing said. It added that John Angelos increased his salary, although the amounts were redacted from the filing, and amended the Orioles partnership agreement to give the “control person” designated by MLB veto power over any votes. That control person is John Angelos.
The filing that claims on Jan. 25, 2021, $1.7 million was transferred from Peter Angelos’ Wells Fargo account to a real estate lawyer in Saratoga Springs, New York, “to enable John to buy a house there.” According to the filing, on April 7, 2021, another $2.5 million was wired to John Angelos.
The new filing adds considerable fire to what was already a scorched-earth legal battle within one of the state’s most prominent families.
The fight revealed that despite Georgia Angelos’ plan to sell the Orioles, John Angelos resisted those efforts, including turning away a “credible” group of buyers in 2020. Sources have told The Baltimore Sun that John Angelos wants the family to keep a majority control of the team.
The litigation also revealed that Georgia Angelos and John Angelos wanted to wind down or sell the law firm, but have been opposed by Louis Angelos, who has been managing it since his father’s incapacitation.
Judge Keith Truffer has scheduled a trial to begin July 10 on both Louis Angelos’ suit and one filed in August by Georgia Angelos. She sued her younger son, saying he sold his father’s law firm to himself, characterizing it financial elder abuse. Louis Angelos claimed the move was necessary because of a law requiring the firm to be transferred to another attorney after Peter Angelos was disabled.
The new filing counters that it is Peter Angelos’ wife and older son who have financially exploited him.
“The defendants abused their positions of trust and confidence … knowing that Peter, by virtue of his disability, is not aware of these acts and unable to register any protest or take any corrective action to protect his rights.”