The wife of Orioles owner Peter Angelos claims in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that their younger son, Louis Angelos, has sold his father’s law firm, which over the decades has won billions of dollars for victims of asbestos and tobacco, for a price to be determined later.
The buyer: Louis Angelos himself.
Georgia K. Angelos’ claim, in Baltimore County Circuit Court, comes two months after she and her older son, John, 55, the O’s chairman and CEO, were sued by Louis Angelos, 53, over control of the baseball, legal and real estate empire built by the now-ailing family patriarch.
Peter Angelos, 93, has been incapacitated for several years, and his wife’s legal action intensifies the family feud revealed in their son’s lawsuit. That suit, which like the new one confirms long-running speculation that the family has plans to sell the Orioles, accused John of plotting to consolidate his power over his father’s assets, particularly the team, and intimidating their mother into acquiescence.
But Georgia Angelos, 80, struck back Tuesday, saying it is Louis Angelos whose conduct has been so “nefarious” that it constitutes “elder abuse” of his father.
“It is Lou who surreptitiously seeks to abscond with Peter’s legacy,” her suit said. “The only small blessing is that Peter lacks the capacity to comprehend this betrayal.”
Georgia Angelos is seeking to have Louis Angelos removed as a co-agent under Peter Angelos’ power of attorney terms and to invalidate the purported sale of the law firm.
In her suit, Georgia Angelos petitions for damages against her son under the state’s Statute Against Financial Exploitation, or SAFE Act, which the General Assembly passed last year.
“It is difficult to conceive of a more flagrant act of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult than that which was perpetrated by Lou against his own father,” the suit states.
Tuesday’s filing lifts the curtain further on the behind-the-scenes battle revealed by Louis Angelos’ lawsuit, which put one of Maryland’s most prominent, yet private, families in a harsh spotlight.
Among the allegations in Georgia Angelos’ suit are that her husband said he did not want his law firm to outlive him, and he also believed the Orioles should be sold after his death. Peter Angelos stopped going to the office in the summer of 2018, and Louis Angelos had been managing the practice, although — as with the other lawyers who work at the firm — he was not made a partner.
“The firm had been built as an asbestos powerhouse that specialized in asbestos litigation, and Peter was well aware that asbestos litigation was in its dying stage,” according to Georgia Angelos’ suit. “It could only live off those cases for so long.”
He also felt the Orioles, which Forbes values at more than $1.37 billion, “should be sold on his death so Georgia could enjoy the great wealth they had amassed together,” his wife’s filing said. But, the court document continued, he also believed any sale of the team should be his wife’s decision to make.
Georgia Angelos’ lawsuit indicates she is preparing to do that, saying she “had retained Goldman Sachs and Jones Day to provide investment banking and legal services in connection with the sale of the Orioles.”
Louis Angelos’ suit also noted that his mother believed a sale was in the family’s best interest, but that his brother, John, had stalled and thwarted those plans. 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.
Georgia Angelos’ suit seeks to shut down a rumor that has circulated in town and that Louis Angelos floated in his lawsuit — that his brother sought full control of the Orioles to potentially move the team to Tennessee, where he has a home in Nashville and his wife is in the music business.
“In a transparent effort to turn public opinion against John, Lou planted a false story in the press that John plans to move the team to Nashville,” the suit said. “John has no intention whatsoever of moving the Baltimore Orioles to Nashville.”
The suit repeated earlier statements by John Angelos that the team will remain in Baltimore “as long as Fort McHenry is standing watch over the Inner Harbor.”
The Orioles declined Tuesday to discuss the matter, while Major League Baseball did not respond to a request to comment.
The suit was filed by Georgia Angelos’ legal team, which includes Adam F. Streisand, a Los Angeles based-attorney who has litigated cases involving the estates of celebrities including Michael Jackson, and represented parties in disputes over control of pro teams such as the Lakers, Clippers and Chargers.
“Lou is sadly not capable of the shame he should feel for falsely and maliciously smearing his mother at such a difficult time in her life,” Streisand said in a statement to The Baltimore Sun. “Even still, Georgia didn’t want to have to tell the world the truth about Lou … But he gave her no choice. So now it’s time for the truth to come out.”
Louis Angelos’ attorney, Jeffrey E. Nusinov, said Tuesday that the filing was “gross distortion of reality” and signaled his brother’s “continued manipulation” of their mother.
“John is unsuccessfully trying to justify his manipulation of his mother to secretly steal a greater inheritance for himself,” Nusinov said. “Half of Peter Angelos’ hard-earned fortune is not enough for him.”
Georgia Angelos, who previously released a statement through the Orioles standing by John Angelos, depicted him in the filings as a successful team owner. The suit notes how the team’s rebuilding process has begun to reap rewards, particularly with a farm system that is ranked among the best in the sport.
“In short, the team is now running like a well-oiled machine, and it is situated to move on a sale when the time is right,” according to her suit.
The new suit also said Louis Angelos has resisted winding down the law firm’s operations. He had refused to share details of its finances, the filing said, and when John Angelos finally obtained some information in August 2020, he learned it had not paid rent in 11 months. Additionally, the documents say, the firm’s profits largely came from annuities set up after previous asbestos victories, “which would eventually run out.”
With Georgia Angelos working to sell the firm with the help of a family friend, Kenneth Feinberg, known for administering the more than $7 billion fund for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the petition said “time was running out for Lou, and he had to make a move.”
That, according to the suit, was to sell the firm to himself.
On June 8, the day before he filed his suit, Louis Angelos sent a letter through Nusinov, saying that as his father’s agent, he had transferred the firm’s stock to himself. He attached documents that included Peter Angelos’ resignation from the law firm and a stock purchase and sale agreement, both of which he signed as his father’s agent.
Nusinov’s letter said that Louis Angelos was acting as his father’s agent because his mother had “failed to act under the powers of attorney” granted by her husband to address the transfer of the law firm to a “qualified person” in the wake of Peter Angelos’ inability to continue working as an attorney.
“This situation is completely untenable,” wrote Nusinov, saying that “Lou Angelos, as the sole member of the family licensed to practice law, and the person who has led the firm in the wake of Mr. Angelos’ disability, is now the qualified, licensed shareholder fulfilling the statutory requirements for the operation of a professional corporation.
Georgia Angelos’ suit said that “of course” Louis Angelos cannot act as his father’s agent because Peter Angelos transferred his power of attorney to his wife. Their sons are successor co-agents who would take over only if Georgia Angelos cannot fulfill her responsibilities.
“The transaction was not a sale at all; it was a theft, pure and simple,” her petition stated.
“How much did Lou pay for the Law Firm?” the filing asked rhetorically. “Absolutely nothing.”
According to one attachment, the purchase was made with a promissory note at a price that would be established later by an appraiser from the law firm’s regular accounting firm, or one chosen by it. In other words, someone either paid by Louis Angelos or selected by the accounting firm paid by him, Georgia Angelos’ suit said. The payment was given a due date of June 8, 2037, “meaning it is unlikely Georgia or Peter will ever see a dime of money from Lou.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Hayes Gardner contributed to this article.