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Fearing Angelos firm’s liabilities, family diverted ‘tens of millions,’ new complaint claims

Peter G. Angelos, shown in a 2014 photo, had been sued along with his law firm for malpractice by former clients whom his firm had represented in asbestos claims. In an effort to shield some assets, Peter’s wife, Georgia, and son John moved tens of millions of dollars out of the patriarch’s account, to be used for their own purposes, a lawsuit filed by Louis Angelos claims.  (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)

The latest allegations in the Angelos legal saga accuse Georgia Angelos and her son, Orioles CEO John Angelos, of transferring tens of millions of dollars out of team owner Peter Angelos’ personal bank account because the two feared liability stemming from his storied law firm.

New court filings from Louis Angelos, the younger son of the ailing Orioles patriarch, claim that Georgia and John saw the firm as “a liability that needed to be jettisoned” because of malpractice lawsuits related to decades-old asbestos litigation.

Georgia and John both feared the lawsuits against the firm and Peter Angelos could drain the family’s riches, Louis claimed in an amended complaint filed Monday. John Angelos responded by transferring assets out of his father’s name, the new complaint alleges.

UPDATE: Louis Angelos surrenders father’s law firm, attorneys say

“He sought to make the family judgment-proof and, in the process, divert to his own use his father’s immense wealth,” Louis Angelos’ lawyer, Jeffrey Nusinov, wrote in the amended complaint. “In time, Georgia enthusiastically joined his effort to shield Peter’s wealth from creditors by diverting it to their own use and benefit.”

John and Georgia Angelos have “systematically drained” Peter Angelos’s personal bank account since he fell ill and became unable to manage his interests, the complaint claims. Since 2017, the account’s balance has fallen from more than $65 million to just $400,000.

That includes nearly $27 million that was transferred to a checking account in Georgia Angelos’ name, the bulk of which was moved shortly after a class-action malpractice suit was filed against the Angelos firm, according to the complaint.

“Lou was not ‘on board’ with this approach, but Georgia and John set about taking steps to place Peter’s assets in their own names in a vain effort to insulate them from any potential judgment creditors,” Nusinov wrote.

The complaint also claims that John Angelos secretly bought additional Orioles stock — with his mother’s approval — using his father’s assets to borrow money for the purchase. The purchase came after an unnamed member of the Baltimore Orioles Limited Partnership, which owns the team, expressed interest in selling a portion of her ownership in the Orioles.

Peter Angelos, 93, maintains a majority stake in the team, though he has been incapacitated since 2018. Louis Angelos has been running his father’s law firm since then, though Georgia and John Angelos claim Peter wanted the firm to close when he was no longer able to run it.

The pair also say that Louis Angelos ignored his father’s wishes and sold the firm to himself, for a price to be determined later, using a promissory note.

The Angelos firm was built on decades of asbestos-related litigation, which also represents potentially major liability because of a pending malpractice lawsuit. Another malpractice lawsuit against the firm settled in June, court papers show.

Former clients of the firm filed the proposed class-action lawsuit in early 2021, claiming that Peter Angelos cost them a multimillion-ollar recovery by failing to file an enforcement action and fraud claim against an asbestos company before a deadline to bring the claims expired.

The suit claims that Angelos and his firm knew or should have known that the asbestos company, MCIC Inc., and its insurers owed more money to Angelos’ asbestos clients than the companies had already paid in a 1994 settlement due to a flawed calculation. The Angelos firm did not bring an enforcement action until 2002 and did not file the fraud complaint until 2005, well past the deadline for filing those motions, according to the complaint.

The class-action suit names the firm and Peter Angelos personally, meaning his personal assets could be at risk if the asbestos claimants win a judgment.

Nusinov declined to comment Tuesday. Steven D. Silverman, who represents John Angelos, did not return a phone message requesting comment.

Former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who represents Georgia Angelos, provided a statement on the new claims:

“The fact that Louis Angelos stole his revered father’s law firm one day, sued his 80-year-old mother and own brother the next day to seize control of all of his father’s assets and now publicly attacks them with vicious accusations says all you need to know about Louis Angelos. These desperate allegations do nothing to salvage his misguided case.”

A hearing is set for Thursday in the Angelos v. Angelos lawsuit. For now, Louis Angelos is maintaining control of his father’s law firm, though the other members of the family have sought to strip him of his management authority and purported ownership of the firm.

Georgia Angelos sought to take over the firm’s bank accounts last year after Wells Fargo threatened to freeze the accounts because it was unclear who was in charge.

Louis Angelos had been improperly issuing checks with Peter Angelos’ signature, her lawyers claimed, placing the firm in jeopardy. Georgia Angelos’ lawyers asked Baltimore County Circuit Judge Keith Truffer to appoint a conservator.

Truffer did not hand over the management of the firm to a conservator. Instead, he named three signatories who could sign checks for the firm and otherwise maintained the status quo, with Louis Angelos in charge.

The contentious family dispute first came into public view this summer, when Louis Angelos filed a lawsuit against his brother alleging that John had manipulated their mother and was exerting unilateral control over the Orioles and the family’s other business interests, including the law firm.

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