This is The Legal Beat, a weekly newsletter about music law from Billboard Pro, offering you a one-stop cheat sheet of big new cases, important rulings and all the fun stuff in between.
This week: Lady Gaga somehow finds herself on the receiving end of a lawsuit over the theft of her French bulldog, Adam Levine accuses a classic car dealer of selling him a fake Maserati, one of Marilyn Manson’s accusers recants her abuse allegations, and much more.
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THE BIG STORY: Lady Gaga Sued Over Dog Theft Reward
A woman named Jennifer McBride says she deserves a huge reward for returning Lady Gaga’s bulldogs after they were stolen at gunpoint – even though she was also convicted of a criminal charge in connection with the high-profile dognapping.
In a lawsuit filed last week in Los Angeles, McBride demanded that Gaga hand over a $500,000 reward she offered for the safe return of the dogs after the violent 2021 incident. It was McBride, after all, who delivered the dogs to the Los Angeles Police Department two days after Gaga’s dog walker Ryan Fischer was shot and nearly killed.
But there’s one small detail McBride’s lawyers left out of the complaint: In December, she pleaded no contest to receiving stolen property in connection with the dognapping, receiving a sentence of two years of probation.
McBride’s lawyers say it doesn’t matter: That Gaga made a binding “unilateral” offer to pay the reward in return for the safe return of the dogs with “no questions asked” — and McBride took her up on the proposal when she did so. Whether that argument will fly before a judge remains to be seen.
For a full breakdown of McBride’s case — including her full complaint and her arguments that she “fully performed her obligation” to Gaga — go read our entire story here.
Other top stories this week…
ADAM LEVINE’S FAKE MASERATI – Attorneys for Adam Levine filed a lawsuit claiming that a classic car dealer defrauded him by selling him a fake version of an uber-rare Maserati worth a whopping $850,000. The star’s attorneys say the seller took “active steps” to conceal red flags about the car, like phony stamped markings on its chassis.
MARILYN MANSON ACCUSER RECANTS – Ashley Morgan Smithline, a woman who previously sued Marilyn Manson for sexual assault, filed an explosive new document stating that her allegations against the rocker were untrue. Instead, Smithline claimed she had been “manipulated” by Manson’s ex-girlfriend, Evan Rachel Wood. A rep for Wood strongly denied the allegations.
ARREST WARRANT FOR KODAK BLACK – A Florida judge issued an arrest warrant for Kodak Black for failing a drug test while on bail for a drug charge. The rapper, facing trial over an oxycodone trafficking charge, allegedly failed to appear for a scheduled drug test in February and then days later submitted a sample that tested positive for fentanyl.
PRE-TRIAL SHOWDOWN OVER SHEERAN TAPE – Lawyers for Ed Sheeran’s copyright accusers fired back at the star’s efforts to ban an infamous YouTube clip from an upcoming trial over whether “Thinking Out Loud” infringed Marvin Gaye‘s “Let’s Get It On,” calling the video “among the most important and critical evidence in this case.”
NIPSEY HUSSLE KILLER GETS 60+ YEARS – A Los Angeles judge sentenced Eric Ronald Holder Jr. to at least 60 years in prison for gunning down rapper Nipsey Hussle. Holder was convicted in July of premeditated murder over the March 2019 shooting at a Los Angeles strip mall.
LIL PEEP WRONGFUL DEATH CASE SETTLED – The mother of late rapper Lil Peep reached a settlement in her wrongful death lawsuit against her son’s former label and management company, First Access Entertainment (FAE). The lawsuit claimed that Peep’s management team provided him with drugs and kept pushing him to perform even though he was “barely able to communicate.” Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
ACCUSER SAYS NICK CARTER AIMS TO “SILENCE” HER – Shannon “Shay” Ruth, a woman suing Nick Carter over accusations that he raped her in 2001, blasted the Backstreet Boys member for filing a defamation countersuit against her. In a so-called anti-SLAPP motion, Ruth said Carter’s countersuit had “no other purpose than to harass, intimate, and potentially silence plaintiff.”
FESTIVAL ORGANIZERS GO TO PRISON – Aaron McCreight and Doug Hargrave, two former Iowa tourism executives, were each sentenced to more than a year in prison after pleading guilty to bank fraud charges related to Newbo Evolve, a failed 2018 music festival headlined by Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson. The pair admitted to lying to a Cedar Rapids bank about projected ticket sales to secure more funding, even as the event appeared headed toward big losses.
BRONX RAPPER CHARGED WITH MURDER – Bronx drill rapper Kay Flock was charged by federal prosecutors with murder and racketeering along with seven other members of two Bronx street gangs, stemming from seven shootings in New York between June 2020 and February 2022. Flock faces a “mandatory life in prison or death” if convicted.
KELLY AVOIDS LENGTHY ADD-ON SENTENCE – A federal judge in Chicago sentenced R. Kelly to 20 years in prison for his convictions of child pornography and the enticement of minors for sex, but said the singer would serve all but one year simultaneously with an earlier 30-year sentence imposed last year on separate racketeering charges. The upshot is that Kelly is facing 31 years total and will be eligible for release at around age 80.
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