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Lawsuit between Peter Angelos’ sons lays bare secret struggle over Baltimore Orioles’ future, possible sale of team

The sons of Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos are fighting over the ailing patriarch’s multimillion-dollar fortune, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Baltimore County Circuit Court that reveals that the family for several years has intended to sell the team.

Louis F. Angelos, 52, is suing John P. Angelos, 54, over what he characterizes as his brother’s attempt to take control and ownership of the family fortune, including the Baltimore Orioles and real estate worth $90 million. The suit also names as a defendant their mother, Georgia Angelos, 80, who the filing characterizes as having been confused and agreeing to a transfer of real estate to John Angelos at his request.

Louis Angelos declined to comment Thursday evening through his attorney, Jeffrey E. Nusinov, who said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun that his client “was compelled to bring this action to set things right.”

John Angelos, who the Major League Baseball club lists as its chairman and CEO, did not respond to text messages seeking comment.

Nusinov said Peter Angelos, who has been in declining health for about five years, had sought to ensure that his two sons “would share equally in decision-making and inheritance of the family assets, including the Orioles.

“John, however, has been working secretly to undermine his father’s intentions,” Nusinov said.

Louis Angelos is seeking to have his brother and mother removed as co-trustees of the trust in which the Orioles were placed, and removed as co-agents of Peter Angelos’ power of attorney.

The suit lays bare an ugly battle within one of Baltimore’s most prominent families in the twilight years of its patriarch, the 92-year-old Peter Angelos. While the turmoil had been ongoing, it stepped up as the Orioles owner’s mental faculties faded.

He collapsed in October 2017 due to a failure of his aortic valve, and although he recovered quickly from subsequent surgery, he began taking steps to manage the future of his holdings, according to the suit. He established a trust and a power of attorney to ensure his wife was taken care of and that his sons would make decisions in tandem, the suit said.

This was when John Angelos “began reversing his father’s policies, operating in secret and plotting is takeover of his father’s estate,” the lawsuit says. It describes John Angelos as working to get rid of those loyal to his father, including then-team vice president and former center fielder Brady Anderson, and freezing Louis Angelos out of decisions.

With Peter Angelos “no longer capable of managing his affairs,” the lawsuit said, his wife determined it was in the trust’s best interest to sell the Orioles.

But, according to the suit, John Angelos stalled and thwarted the plans to sell the team — currently valued by Forbes at $1.37 billion — unilaterally torpedoing, according to the lawsuit, interest from “one highly credible group of buyers.”

“John intends to maintain absolute control over the Orioles,” the suit charges, “to manage, to sell, or, if he chooses, to move to Tennessee (where he has a home and where his wife’s career is headquartered) without having to answer to anyone.”

Publicly, the Orioles and John Angelos, in particular, have long maintained they are committed to keeping the team in Baltimore. John Angelos had been quiet on whether they might consider selling the club, and the club is engaged in protracted negotiations to extend its lease at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Alan Rifkin, a longtime former attorney for the Orioles, expressed dismay at news of the lawsuit.

“Having witnessed many of these events firsthand, it is my view that it is more than unfortunate that Peter’s extraordinary legacy is being treated in this way in a public forum,” Rifkin told The Sun in an interview. “I hope that this family, which I have great respect for, can resolve their differences.”

Selling the team while Peter Angelos is alive would result in steep capital gains taxes, but a sale after his death could save the family hundreds of millions of dollars.

Major League Baseball would have oversight over any sale, vetting potential new owners, but that doesn’t preclude prospective buyers from exploring such a purchase.

Major League Baseball and the Orioles have a tortured history, although both sides have said the relationship has improved to workable.

During the 1994 work stoppage, Peter Angelos refused to accede to MLB’s plans to use replacement players, based on his previous representation of union workers and concern about jeopardizing team legend Cal Ripken’s pursuit of the major league record for consecutive games played. A decade later, Angelos opposed MLB’s planned relocation of the Montreal Expos (now the Nationals) to Washington, a city whose residents had long supported the Orioles and been in its exclusive television and marketing territory.

In 2020, The Baltimore Sun reported that potential bidders had begun lining up in the belief that the Orioles could be placed on the market for the first time in a generation. Amid the signs of interest in the team, former Orioles president and CEO Larry Lucchino told The Sun he had been approached about forming an ownership group, though he said that would not be appropriate to consider at that time.

The Sun reported that year that Major League Baseball team owners privately voted to approve John Angelos as “control person” for the Orioles, meaning he succeeded his father as the executive responsible for the team. The approval signaled an official transition from the leadership of Peter Angelos.

The lawsuit also reveals a family rift in the early 2000s that never had been made public. Louis Angelos alleges that the split occurred partly because John Angelos “openly displayed his disregard for his father’s prerogatives as the Managing Partner of the ball club.” The petition also says John “never satisfied Mr. Angelos’ desire that John,” who had attended law school, “become a member of the bar.”

Louis Angelos, who remains a resident of Baltimore County, manages the law firm founded by Peter Angelos and from which he derived his fortune from representing workers harmed by asbestos.

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