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A Man Hailed as Cindy Birdsong’s Rescuer Is Accused of Exploiting Her

Simply final 12 months, Brad Herman, a longtime behind-the-scenes aide to celebrities, drew reward from the household of Cindy Birdsong, an ailing former member of the Supremes. He was credited with serving to to rescue her from what they described as a buddy’s undue affect over her care and funds.

However now, Mr. Herman has been named in a petition introduced by Ms. Birdsong’s son, who’s accusing him in court docket papers of monetary elder abuse and misappropriation of her cash.

The son, Charles Hewlett, who has been appointed the conservator of his mom’s affairs, is looking for damages and the return of what his petition describes as lacking funds.

The allegations comply with months of court docket proceedings over who ought to management a conservatorship overseeing the funds and medical selections of Ms. Birdsong, 84, who was as soon as a part of a Motown group that grew to become music royalty.

In the present day, Ms. Birdsong shouldn’t be in a position to talk and is on a feeding tube after a sequence of strokes. She has lived at nursing services and hospitals since 2021 and a choose in the end put Mr. Hewlett in control of her affairs late final 12 months.

“Mr. Herman used his place of belief and confidence to make the most of Ms. Birdsong’s dependency and exercised care, custody and management over Ms. Birdsong’s property,” argues the petition filed in Los Angeles Superior Court docket this month by Susan Geffen, a lawyer for Mr. Hewlett.

Mr. Herman defended his dealing with of Ms. Birdsong’s affairs in an interview on Friday, saying he’s “dedicated to creating sure that Ms. Birdsong’s property receives all that’s due.” He mentioned he has an accountant analyzing Ms. Birdsong’s banking data and that he’s “satisfied that the accounting will likely be so as” forward of a June listening to within the case.

Years in the past, Mr. Herman mentioned, he stepped in to assist Ms. Birdsong on the request of members of the family who lived outdoors of California. He mentioned that Mr. Hewlett on the time didn’t appear excited about interceding.

“If any individual else was taking good care of her I wouldn’t have wanted to be requested to assist,” he mentioned, later including that “on the finish of the day all that issues is Cindy’s welfare and well-being.”

Ms. Birdsong was a Supreme for almost a decade throughout a part of the group’s heyday after changing Florence Ballard in 1967. She carried out hits like “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Come See About Me” alongside Diana Ross and Mary Wilson, residing the glamorous lifetime of a Motown star. However her profession took a downturn after she was minimize from the group in 1976.

Her funds fell aside — which she attributed to a “unhealthy closing deal” with Motown Data — and he or she largely withdrew from the limelight. She lived a lot of her later years in what members of the family described as an more and more remoted life at a Los Angeles condo that she shared with Rochelle Lander, a longtime buddy with whom she began a Christian ministry.

In interviews final 12 months, Mr. Herman, Ms. Birdsong’s three siblings and a sister-in-law described their efforts to get Ms. Birdsong out of the condo, the place, the siblings mentioned, her well being gave the impression to be deteriorating and Ms. Lander was not sharing details about her well-being.

The siblings signed papers granting Mr. Herman, who they mentioned was advisable by mutual pals, her energy of lawyer. In 2021, he orchestrated Ms. Birdsong’s removing from the condo with assist from the Los Angeles police and a personal paramedic service. With energy of lawyer, Herman additionally arrange a checking account for Ms. Birdsong that was in each of their names, in line with court docket papers, an association that Ms. Birdsong’s members of the family mentioned they understood as an try and marshal the singer’s funds for her profit.

(Ms. Lander, who has not agreed to an interview, has in prior settings defended her care. She has not interceded in court docket proceedings which have adopted Ms. Birdsong’s removing.)

Final Could, a 12 months and a half after Ms. Birdsong had been relocated to a nursing facility, Mr. Herman utilized to be co-conservator of Ms. Birdsong along with her brother, Ronald Birdsong.

However a choose in Los Angeles requested county officers to take over after they raised considerations about how her funds had been dealt with. The county officers pointed to greater than $190,000 that they mentioned had been faraway from her checking account however didn’t seem to have been put towards her care at nursing services.

The court docket revoked Mr. Herman’s energy of lawyer, he dropped his request to be appointed her conservator and a county company, the Workplace of the Public Guardian, started to supervise Ms. Birdsong’s affairs quickly, till Mr. Hewlett was appointed final December.

In current court docket hearings, Mr. Herman had more and more tense interactions with Decide Lee R. Bogdanoff, who ordered him to supply an accounting of Ms. Birdsong’s funds and produce $120,000 that Mr. Herman had mentioned he had in money and cashier’s checks locked in a secure at residence.

In January, when Mr. Herman handed Ms. Birdsong’s son a verify for $71,000 within the courtroom, Decide Bogdanoff challenged why the sum was lower than what Mr. Herman had earlier reported. In court docket, Mr. Herman attributed the distinction to “offsets and deductions.”

“You’re not entitled to make any offsets and deductions,” Decide Bogdanoff replied. “It’s not your cash.”

Though Ms. Birdsong didn’t retain vital royalty rights, the data point out she was receiving common funds — month-to-month checks between a number of hundred {dollars} and greater than $10,000 — from SoundExchange, which distributes funds to musicians.

The petition accuses Mr. Herman of constructing “vital withdrawals or transfers of money from Ms. Birdsong’s account that weren’t used for her care.”

“We had been led to imagine Brad was conserving the cash secure,” mentioned Melody Birdsong, a sister-in-law of Ms. Birdsong’s, in an interview.

Mr. Herman has beforehand mentioned in interviews that he was at one level answerable for paying Ms. Birdsong’s bills on the expert nursing services the place she had lived. The petition doesn’t totally element the quantity Ms. Birdsong has incurred for her care since her removing from the condo, however county officers instructed the court docket final 12 months that she had an impressive steadiness of greater than $30,000 at numerous nursing services.

A Hollywood Reporter profile from 2022 described Mr. Herman as somebody who had “smoothed out difficulties” for Hollywood elite for many years, describing his consumer record as having included Frank Sinatra, Johnny Carson and Burt Reynolds, and certainly one of his areas of experience as navigating the Division of Motor Autos.

In recent times, Mr. Herman has been embroiled in a authorized dispute with the daughter of certainly one of his former purchasers, Stan Lee, the Marvel Comics creator. After Mr. Lee died in 2018, Mr. Herman sued Lee’s daughter, J.C. Lee, over allegations that she had made to The Each day Beast about his conduct, together with that he sneaked into her father’s residence, which he mentioned in court docket papers was false.

Ms. Lee then filed a defamation lawsuit towards Mr. Herman over his accusation on a podcast that she had slammed her father’s head right into a chair, a narrative that she mentioned in court docket papers was fabricated. Within the authorized papers she accused Mr. Herman of forging her father’s signature on mortgage paperwork — an assertion he referred to as “flat-out made up” in Friday’s interview.

A choose dismissed Mr. Herman’s lawsuit towards Ms. Lee and ordered him to pay her lawyer charges, in line with court docket paperwork. In her defamation case, Ms. Lee acquired a default judgment final month after Mr. Herman didn’t seem in court docket or reply to filings. He was ordered to pay Ms. Lee greater than $100,000. Within the interview, he mentioned he had not been conscious of the current court docket actions within the case and that he deliberate to enchantment the choice.

Mr. Herman has mentioned that he took on Ms. Birdsong’s case along with her finest pursuits at coronary heart. However he was questioned intently on the listening to in January at which Decide Bogdanoff requested him to elucidate why he had not turned over cash of Ms. Birdsong’s that he mentioned he had. Mr. Herman responded that he had been working in tandem along with her household because the starting.

“Your honor, if I could say so, with respect and with humility, Ms. Birdsong wouldn’t be alive had been it not for me,” he mentioned, “and I’m happy with that.”

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