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Leonard Cohen's ex-manager guilty of harassment, violating orders

An L.A. County jury convicts Kelley Lynch, 55, the former business and personal manager of singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen.

April 13, 2012|By Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times
  • Kelley Lynch, left, former business manager for singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, appears in court with her public defenders, Nikhil A. Ramnaney, middle, and Michael Kelly. Lynch was found guilty of violating restraining orders, making harassing phone calls and sending thousands of harassing emails to the 77-year-old Cohen, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Kelley Lynch, left, former business manager for singer-songwriter Leonard… (Al Seib, Los Angeles Times )

A Los Angeles County jury Thursday found the former business and personal manager of singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen guilty of violating restraining orders, making harassing phone calls and sending thousands of harassing emails.

Kelley Lynch, 55, showed no emotion as a court clerk read the verdict. She had pleaded not guilty to five counts of violating protective orders and two counts of repeatedly contacting Cohen with the intent to annoy or harass.

Over several days, prosecutors played voicemails said to be from Lynch, who had a business and personal relationship with Cohen for about 17 years.

The voicemails were peppered with obscenities, sexual references and accusations that Cohen was abusing drugs. Many of the calls were said to be made when Lynch was intoxicated.

Prosecutors also displayed 10 binders filled with printed emails sent to Cohen, his attorneys and others over the last year. The emails were said to be hostile toward Cohen and other artists and public figures.

Deputy City Atty. Sandra Jo Streeter said Lynch was "incredibly bright and capable" and knew she was violating no-contact restraining orders that Cohen had obtained in California and Colorado.

Cohen, 77, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, testified last week that he had fired Lynch as his manager in 2004. He sued Lynch in 2005, accusing her of stealing $5 million from his personal accounts and investments. A judge granted Cohen a default judgment in that case, ordering Lynch to pay $9.5 million.

Once he dismissed her, Cohen said, Lynch began calling and emailing him. Voicemail messages from Lynch said he "needed to be taken down and shot," he said.

In his closing statements, Nikhil A. Ramnaney, a public defender representing Lynch, told the jury he was not going to deny that Lynch had sent voicemails and emails

During her relationship with Cohen, he said, Lynch had enormous access to the details of his business and personal life. Ramnaney said Cohen and his attorneys, believing Lynch knew "too much" about Cohen, have attempted to undermine Lynch's credibility and blame her for Cohen's financial problems.

Lynch's messages contained legitimate requests for financial documents that she needed to complete her taxes, Ramnaney said. Voicemail messages played by the prosecution included references to K-1 and 1099 tax forms.

"She's desperate to get these critical documents to clear her name and get on with her life," Ramnaney said. "They never gave her what she asked for. They kept stonewalling her and stonewalling her."

He continued: "Nobody ever changed their emails or phone numbers. They didn't even use a spam filter because they wanted to know what she had to say. They wanted to know what she knew."

Lynch is being held at Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood in lieu of $25,000 bail. A sentencing hearing is expected next week.

hailey.branson@latimes.com

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