Dileo’s widow, daughter held in contempt as lawyers fight over manager’s laptop, phone
LISBON – Two Wellsville area women – the widow and daughter of one of the late pop star Michael Jackson’s managers – found themselves in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Wednesday morning facing contempt of court allegations.
According to court documents, Linda Dileo, the widow of Frank Dileo, and their daughter, Belinda Dileo, have been requested by subpoena to turn over the laptop computer and cell phone of Frank Dileo, who died in August 2011. However, they have both failed to do so, prompting the contempt motions.
The electronic devices are being requested by Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, and the children of Michael Jackson, who are currently involved in a civil trial in Los Angeles about Jackson’s death. In that suit, Jackson’s family members are claiming the wrongful death of the music star while he was preparing for the “This is it Tour.” The lawsuit has been filed against AEG Live LLC and others involved in Jackson’s career near the time of his death.
The Jackson family involved in the lawsuit reportedly is hoping to find emails or documents related to the health of Michael Jackson between Jan. 1, 2009 and June 25, 2009 – the date of Jackson’s death.
Local attorney David Tobin was requested to take a deposition from Linda Dileo on behalf of a request from the California Superior Court in February. A motion was filed in March on behalf of Linda Dileo to quash the subpoena, which was followed by a motion to compel her to give the deposition. Finally, on May 28, the deposition was taken.
According to court documents, Linda Dileo testified the laptop being sought by the subpoena was given by her daughter to a friend. She agreed to attempt to locate the computer in the next seven to 14 days and hand over the cell phone immediately. However, neither has been turned over.
Additionally, Belinda Dileo reportedly failed to answer in her deposition any questions regarding whom she had given the laptop computer. William Bloss, an attorney for Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder of Bridgeport, Conn., representing the Jacksons, said he would be willing to not learn the name of the person who has been holding onto the laptop provided when they receive the computer it has not been tampered with.
A computer expert, David Wilkeson of Tech Advisor LLC of Canfield, has been hired by the Jackson contingent to review the laptop and possibly the cell phone should they be provided. He testified on Wednesday how he would make a mirror image of the contents of the laptop without jeopardizing the data.
Wilkeson, who agreed to sign a confidentiality agreement, said he would be able to create read-only files from the contents of the laptop and search them for keywords or names. Wilkeson said he has a background in doing similar work for local police in cases involving white collar fraud and child pornography.
Bloss pointed out the Jackson family has concerns about items on the laptop not being disclosed because it should be privileged information.
Attorney Chris Amato, recently asked by the Dileos to represent them in court, said the family also has concerns about the contents of the computer and cell phone, noting these are personal items of a deceased family member. Frank Dileo reportedly was using these items when helping Jackson prepare for the upcoming tour, which never occurred due to his death.
Amato questioned about the chances of the computer’s contents being destroyed, erased or revealed.
“They don’t have any safeguards,” Amato said.
Wilkeson said the only chance of a problem is if the computer would fail electronically while he was pulling the copies of the contents from it.
Amato also said the women have told him the cell phone was given to attorney Carolyn Dorazio of Wexford, Pa., who at one point served as the attorney for Belinda Dileo.
Tobin said obtaining the laptop and cell phone has been “like pulling teeth, as the court can see from what has taken place.” He further requested Linda and Belinda Dileo be found in contempt of court and if they failed to produce the items by Friday, they should be incarcerated until they produced them.
Bloss added time is growing short. After the hearing, Bloss said the civil lawsuit in Los Angeles started about two months ago and testimony on behalf of Katherine Jackson and the children is expected to continue for another week or two. Then the testimony on the side of AEG and the other defendants is expected to take at least six weeks.
Judge Scott Washam agreed to find both Dileo women in contempt, despite an objection by Amato that Linda Dileo had offered and done everything in her power to produce the laptop but it is not in her possession. Washam gave the Dileos until Monday to produce the two items so their attorney can get them to Wilkeson. Doing so would purge them from the contempt.
Another hearing was set for Wednesday, July 10 to ensure the order to produce the items is followed.
AEG Live Entertainment LLC also had an attorney in the courtroom, Richard Buckner, who only spoke up once when he believed a comment made by Tobin about an email may have accused his law firm, O’Melveny and Myers LLP of Los Angeles, of “game playing.”
According to court documents, O’Melveny and Myers represented the Dileos in earlier court proceedings.