The L.A. Weekly has a fascinating and detailed article on the Yagman trial. Read it here.
I told you that it was a shame nobody from the L.A. Times seemed to be covering the case. That suspicion was confirmed by the article:
Los Angeles Times coverage of the conviction, for example, gave the strong impression that Yagman’s renegade past — battling the feds and the Los Angeles Police Department, which the lawyer regularly described as a “criminal enterprise” — was the prime reason he ended up in court. But those reporters, who rarely attended the trial, missed the core tale that unfolded there.
At the trial itself, court watchers saw Yagman’s personal and professional lives opened wide for the jury: a man who took huge amounts of money from aging relatives and spent it on himself, lied about his pricey Venice beach house while claiming bankruptcy, and secreted huge amounts of cash by opening bank and brokerage accounts in the name of a girlfriend, where it was found by the IRS.
The article gives real insight into the kind of fellow Yagman is:
YAGMAN, IT TURNED OUT, loved spending other people’s money, most notably his aging relatives’, as the prosecution embarrassingly showed. Sagar and Kim accused Yagman of taking control of investments and savings totaling $776,110 from his aunts, uncles and mother, then transferring the money into bank and brokerage accounts under the name of his girlfriend, K.D. Mattox, so the feds wouldn’t know about the sudden cash influx.
The humiliating part, beyond the alleged gross violation of federal law? He spent the money on himself, according to the prosecutors, paying for expensive suits, meals and other living expenses. It was a devastating charge that ultimately played against him with tax-paying, family-oriented jurors and almost certainly sealed his fate.
To make matters worse, the prosecutors successfully alleged that Yagman’s aunt, Doris Smolek, was hospitalized and dying from cancer when Yagman raided her bank account, leaving her only $1,200 in savings — and $16,000 in hospital bills — by the end of 1999.
The lawsuit-happy Yagman even threatened to sue the article’s author, Patrick McDonald:
[Yagman’s] ballsy attitude came through loud and clear midway through the trial when Yagman approached me in the courtroom gallery during a break. The day before, I had offered him a business card, but Yagman brushed me off. He now walked over in a dark, too-tight suit and apologized. “There’s a lot of stuff happening here,” he said.
When I told him I wrote for the L.A. Weekly, Yagman’s eyes narrowed. Although the Weekly had run my somewhat flattering article about Yagman’s litigation prowess, the piece had also described him as an “obnoxious” lawyer with a “big mouth.” (See “Best Served Cold,” June 1–7, 2007.) And an accompanying photograph showed Yagman speaking out of the side of his mouth, making him look silly.
“You didn’t have to use that picture,” Yagman declared. “You know, when I’m done with all of this stuff,” he said, gesturing to the courtroom, “I’m going to have to sue you.” He then alleged that the Weekly article had been “completely untrue… with no fact checking.” When asked to name the errors, he said he didn’t know and asked for a copy of the paper. Finally, he warned, “If someone tries to damage me or my firm, I have to sue. That’s what I’m known for.”
Well, pal, now you’re known for something else: being a convicted felon. Get used to it.
P.S. I have a wonderful story to tell you about the trial — a story that will put a smile on all of your faces. But I don’t have time to tell it now. Stay tuned, though — this one is good.