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As a result of the lawsuit Alanis Morissette filed last year against her business managers, GSO Business Management and Jonathan Schwartz, Schwartz is facing a few years in prison. Schwartz admitted to embezzling nearly $5 million from Alanis over roughly a four year period. Additionally, Schwartz embezzled another $2 million from other clients. Maybe Alanis should've kept both hands in her pockets.
Last May, after Alanis filed her civil lawsuit, GSO Business Management quickly, and quietly, settled that case. While the exact details of the settlement are confidential, one would anticipate that the business management company made Alanis whole by paying back the stolen monies on Schwartz's behalf, whom they sued the day before Alanis filed her suit.
Alanis's civil lawsuit essentially led to the federal criminal prosecution of Schwartz for the embezzlement, or, technically, the failing to report the embezzled monies as income to the IRS (which is what he pled guilty to). Schwartz's plea deal should land him no more than four years, though technically, he could be facing over two decades behind bars.
Embezzlement is a form of theft. It can range in severity. A cashier that takes $20 from the till, and an accountant who hides $2 million from a business, are both committing embezzlement. It basically happens when someone who is lawfully allowed to access or possess another person's property takes the property and converts it to their own use. The distinction from normal theft is having lawful access at the outset.
Embezzlement is something small business owners need to be keenly aware of, as small businesses are most frequently targeted. Entertainers, performers, artists, and athletes that hire business managers need to treat their public personalities like small businesses, and realize that those who have access to financial accounts need to be monitored for impropriety.
Take for example the recent dispute between Johnny Depp and his former business managers. Depp, like Alanis, discovered improprieties after hiring a new business manager who conducted a financial review.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.