Los Angeles Magazine Sold To Two Celebrity Lawyers

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Los Angeles magazine, a long-running institution in the city’s media ecosystem, has been purchased by attorneys Mark Geragos and Ben Meiselas, the publication announced Monday.

The acquisition marks a new chapter for a publication that bills itself as “Southern California’s oldest glossy and the first city magazine in America.”

Paul Pringle’s 2022 book (Bad City: Peril and Power in the City of Angels) mentions Mark Geragos:

* [Mark] Geragos had told the Warrens that their civil claim against USC and Puliafito could be worth $10 million or more. He persuaded them to go into mediation for a quicker payout than would be possible through a lawsuit.
The mediator Geragos agreed to was Dickran Tevrizian, a retired federal judge who was a Trojan through and through. Tevrizian held degrees in finance and law from USC, a USC scholarship fund was named for him, and the university honored him with its prestigious Alumni Merit Award. His wife and three siblings were also Trojans. The Warrens told me they had been unaware of any of Tevrizian’s USC connections until after his selection as the mediator—and then they were told only that he was an alumnus. Even that didn’t sit well with Paul Warren, who asked Geragos how Tevrizian could be an impartial arbiter of the family’s claim against his alma mater. Geragos assured him that Tevrizian was a good choice.

(Tevrizian later insisted to me that he had disclosed his Trojan ties to all the parties in the mediation. When I asked him if he had anything in writing to support that, he replied that he would no longer engage with me.)

Everything about the mediation was secret—the participants, the nature of the claim, and the outcome—so my reporting on it had been limited, including with respect to Tevrizian’s role. But I did learn that USC’s lawyers played hardball with the Warrens, with threats to shame them publicly over their own conduct, which the family saw as a smear in the making. One of Geragos’s associates handled most of the case, and the hoped-for $10 million became a $1.5 million offer from USC. The associate persuaded the Warrens to accept it to avoid an interminable and vicious court battle. Of the $1.5 million, $600,000 went to the Geragos firm, a handsome payday for the lawyers.

In return for their end of the money, the Warrens had to agree in writing to never speak publicly about the issues in the mediation—meaning all their encounters with Puliafito—and to help USC quash any subpoenas that might be issued for testimony or records about the ex-dean. It was the sort of nondisclosure agreement that the #MeToo movement, ignited months earlier by the sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, wanted scraped from the legal landscape.

There were two more conditions for the Warrens: The family had to surrender to USC all those photos and videos of Puliafito doing drugs, along with any emails, text messages, or anything on paper about him or the university. And the Warrens had to destroy their copies of the images. If they didn’t, there would be no money. Who were they to reject the advice of a famous lawyer? So the deed was accomplished when the lawyers marshaled Paul, Mary Ann, Sarah, and Charles to a tech shop in downtown L.A., where the photos and videos were deleted from their phones and
computers—a wipe so thorough that they had to create new Apple IDs when it was completed.

Puliafito was part of the mediation agreement. He and his lawyer signed it, as did attorneys for USC—including Yang. She apparently saw the muzzling of the Warrens and the destruction of their evidence of Puliafito’s drug crimes as part of her charge to conduct an “independent” investigation of the scandal. After I learned of the wiping of the devices, I contacted Yang. She would not speak to me or answer written questions I sent her.
Geragos also refused to be interviewed. Through his attorney, Nikias said he knew nothing about the mediation agreement, even though one of the attorneys who signed it for USC, the university’s general counsel, reported to him. Lacey said she was unaware that the photos and videos and other material were destroyed. “That should be looked into,” she said. As far as I could determine, it was not.

The Warrens’ devices were wiped in November 2017. That was a month after the death of Dora Yoder’s infant boy, a twenty-five-day-old who had meth in his body. The tragedy brought Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide detectives into Puliafito’s life.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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