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Less than two weeks after it was revealed that the former manager of comic book icon Stan Lee had been accused of abuse, forty-three-year old Keya Morgan has reportedly been arrested. Among the charges that he faces are claims of elder abuse, false imprisonment and embezzlement. Arrested in Arizona, Morgan is set to be extradited to Los Angeles to stand trail, the same city where Lee passed away in November 2018, shortly before his ninety-sixth birthday.
Four months before his death Lee successfully renewed a protective order against his former associate which forbid the manager and memorabilia collector within one hundred yards of his former client for a minimum of three years, as well as Lee’s daughter and younger brother. Morgan had allegedly withheld earnings from the comic book creator, while also keeping Lee under a form of house arrest.
‘The original petition and supporting documents alleged Morgan seized control of Lee’s home and hired security guards with orders to keep away trusted relatives and associates of Lee before moving him from his longtime home to an unfamiliar condominium,’ claimed an article published by Reuters in August 2018. ‘In doing so, the petition alleged, Morgan was ‘unduly influencing’ and ‘isolating’ Lee, contrary to a video Lee posted to Twitter in June describing Morgan as his ‘only partner and business manager.’
The news story continued, ‘Morgan has denied allegations of abuse. But he was arrested in June on suspicion of making a false police report for placing an emergency 911 call for a burglary in progress at Lee’s home. The call was made after two police detectives and a social worker arrived to check on Lee’s welfare, according to a police affidavit.’
Lee first entered the world of comic books in the late 1930s as an assistant at Timely Comics, a precursor for what would eventually become Marvel. He quickly rose through the ranks of the company and by the dawn of the 1960s had already created his first successful series, the Fantastic Four. Alongside artist Jack Kirby, Lee would be responsible for an array of characters that would include such iconic superheroes as Spider-Man, the X-Men and the ever-expanding universe of the Avengers.
While Marvel had remained at the forefront of the comic book industry it had struggled for decades to translate this success onto the big screen. The 1990s saw ill-advised adaptations of Captain America and the Fantastic Four but it would not be until The X-Men and Spider-Man that the comic book movie would finally allow Marvel to to step out of the shadows of its rival DC. But while these movies had been produced and distributed by other studios, Marvel longed to become a cinematic force in its own right.
In April 2005, less than a decade after the company had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Marvel signed a deal with Paramount Pictures that would make Hollywood history. ‘Paramount has inked a lucrative, exclusive distribution deal with Marvel for films based on the comic book publisher’s remaining characters,’ announced Variety on the business deal that would ultimately lead to the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
‘Marvel has never produced a movie on its own until now. To fund its slate Marvel arranged a seven-year $525 million revolving credit facility with Merrill Lynch Commercial Finance Corp., secured against the movie rights to 10 comic-book characters, including Captain America. Paramount isn’t putting up any production money; it will receive a fee for marketing and distributing an initial ten movies, the first of which is expected to hit theatres in two years. To ensure the maximum possible audience, none of the movies will be R-rated.’
The first movie motion picture to result from this deal was Iron Man, released in 2008 to considerable box office success. Over the following decade Marvel would release a total of twenty MCU features before Lee’s passing, while the two films that would follow – Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame – would both break the billion dollar mark at the box office. Lee would make a brief cameo in each of the twenty-two movies, just as he had Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and The X-Men.
On 14 May 2019 it was revealed that Lee’s ex-manager had been accused of abusing the writer, with an article published by People stating, ‘Morgan was charged with five counts of elder abuse, including false imprisonment, forgery and fraud, according to court documents obtained by People. An arrest warrant has been issued for Morgan at $300,000. Alex Kessel, attorney of the accused, responded with a statement claiming, ‘My client stands firmly on his presumption of innocence. I expect him to be completely exonerated of all charges.’
According to a story from Deadline, Morgan had embezzled approximately £5 million from Lee, having taken control of his business affairs around the time of Black Panther‘s release in February 2018. ‘The five counts of elder abuse filed 10 May of this year could see Morgan behind bars for up to a decade if found guilty. An arrest warrant has been issued for the ex-memorabilia dealer,’ revealed the piece.
But now the Associated Press have revealed that Morgan has been arrested for the abusive and criminal control he held over Lee. ‘Morgan faces felony charges including theft, embezzlement, forgery or fraud against an elder adult and false imprisonment of an elder adult. A misdemeanor count also alleges elder abuse,’ the website announced. ‘Police say Morgan pocketed more than $262,000 from autograph signing sessions Lee did in May 2018. Authorities say Morgan at one point also took Lee from his Hollywood Hills home to a Beverly Hills condominium ‘where Morgan had more control over Lee.’
‘Lee’s daughter said in a request for a restraining order last year that Morgan was manipulating the mentally declining Lee, preventing him from seeing family and friends and trying to take control of his money and business affairs. Attorney Alex Kessel has said Morgan has never abused or taken advantage of Lee. Kessel said in an email on Saturday that he had been in contact with prosecutors to arrange for Morgan to surrender on Tuesday. ‘It is unfortunate that the DA and police did not honour our commitment to surrender next week and arrested him,’ Kessel said in an email.’