Britney Spears may be free of the restrictive conservatorship that ruled her life for 13 years, but the Toxic singer’s ongoing battle with her father is about to go to a whole other level.
At a hearing Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Brenda Penny agreed with attorneys on both sides that an evidentiary hearing is needed to decide whether Jamie Spears spied on his daughter in her bedroom and elsewhere, and if he plundered the one-time Princess of Pop’s multimillion-dollar fortune.
The mini-trial of sorts looks set to start July 27.
Coming a little more than two months after Penny pulled the plug on the contentious conservatorship, Wednesday’s long-scheduled and briefly blackout-plagued hearing in downtown Los Angeles directly follows filings that reiterate a seemingly consistent campaign of lining his own pockets and surveillance by the elder Spears.
“During his tenure as Conservator, Mr. Spears used his role as Conservator to enrich himself and those loyal or useful to him, often at the expense and against the best interests of his own daughter, whose assets, welfare, and best interests he was supposed to protect,” says a former FBI agent hired by Britney Spears’ lawyer Matthew Rosengart to probe Jamie Spears’ control of his offspring’s career and more than $60 million estate (read the declaration here).
“Beyond the financial misconduct, Mr. Spears had actual and apparent conflicts of interest in violation of industry norms and the Rules governing the conduct of a conservator and also engaged in and directed others to engage in unconscionable Violations of Ms. Spears’s privacy and civil liberties, which also implicates federal or state criminal violations of the law,” Sherine Ebadi, now Kroll Associates Inc’s associate managing director, said in a declaration submitted to the docket last week.
As well as pitching himself for a cooking show and snagging $6.3 million from his daughter’s estate and accounts, the elder Spears also conducted “self-dealing,” according to Ebadi. Having already authorized “the expenditure of more than $30 million in fees to be paid by the estate to dozens of firms between 2008 and 2020,” Jamie Spears petitioned the court to have Britney Spears to pay his current legal fees – which are a result of her fight to disentangle herself from him.
Right now that matter and the efforts of others to get money out of the estate will be pushed to that evidentiary hearing this summer. Expected to last several days, the mini-trial will also address allegations that Jamie Spears used the security firm Black Box to illegally spy on his daughter Britney.
Today saw the elder Spears’ newish attorney Alex Weingarten saying the alleged extensive monitoring of the younger Spears in her home, on her various phones and other devices and elsewhere “didn’t happen.” First reported by the New York Times in print and in FX on Hulu’s Controlling Britney Spears last September, the claims have long been denied by the elder Spears even when a former Black Box employee came forward as a whistleblower.
Now those denials have failed to pass at least one test, with perhaps more to come in court.
“Following publication of these troubling allegations, I personally debriefed and interviewed the whistleblower, Alex Vlasov, at the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles at the direction of counsel for Ms. Spears and I corroborated the Times’s reporting on Mr. Spears’s extensive, surveillance efforts, including of Ms. Spears’s attorney-client communications and private conversations in her bedroom, “ex-G-woman Ebadi said in her 27-page declaration of late last week “Based upon my training and experience, including as a Special Agent with the FBI, and having debriefed and interviewed many hundreds of individuals and witnesses, I concluded that Mr. Vlasov was highly-credible,” she concluded.
As for Britney Spears herself — the singer was silent, but poignant in a social media post this afternoon.
Of course, that comes after very publicly battling the past week with her sister Jamie Lynn over the latter’s supposedly revelation-filled memoir and having Greenberg Traurig LLP’s Rosengart send a cease-and-desist letter. So what more is there to say?