Johnny Depp fans questioned why Depp’s ex-business manager would be asked to be a witness in the defamation trial between Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard, as it is known that Depp and ex-manager Joel Mandel have a problematic history.
The Pirates of the Caribbean actor sued his ex-wife for $50 million for defamation after she wrote an op-ed that insinuated she was a victim of domestic abuse. While the article did not name Depp specifically, his legal team has argued that the piece damaged his career as an actor.
The high-profile trial has brought on several witnesses on both sides who have spoken regarding their understanding of Depp’s and Heard’s relationship. However, fans questioned the decision to let Joel Mandel testify on Thursday given his and Depp’s history.
One Twitter user who goes by the username @depplyhaIIows wrote, “Joel Mandel is the leech who stole hundreds of millions from Johnny Depp over a number of years and will be salty as f*** because he was sued to the high heavens.”
Another user by the name of @tasteofsanity wrote, “The current witness, Joel Mandel, is Johnny Depp’s former business manager, whom he sued and settled with for embezzling millions of dollars from him. Mandel has since faced federal investigation for fraud.”
Mandel stated on Thursday in his testimony that he met Depp in 1999 and worked with him between 1999 and 2016. Mandel, along with his brother Robert Mandel, led a company known as The Management Group (TMG) that provided an array of financial aid to Hollywood stars. Mandel testified, “We pay bills, and we do tax returns, and we assist people with purchases of cars and boats and art and planes.”
In 2017, Depp sued TMG, along with both Robert and Joel Mandel, for negligence, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty, among other claims. Depp sought $25 million in damages. TMG counter-sued Depp, claiming that the actor was responsible for his own financial troubles.
Depp stated then that the Mandels collected $28 million in contingent fees that Depp says he never agreed to while they acted as Depp’s legal, business, tax and accounting advisers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The lawsuit also claimed that TMG loaned nearly $10 million of Depp’s money to third parties without his authorization, and stated that the company failed to file or pay his taxes on time, costing him $5.6 million in federal penalties and interest.
In 2018, Depp and TMG reached a settlement, and sources from both sides at the time stated they were pleased with the agreement, according to CBS News.
With Depp and Mandel’s history, several have questioned the accuracy of the testimonies from Mandel, as well as other witnesses for the defense, who all have testified that they have rocky relationships with Depp.
“I’m not saying Bruce Witkin, Tracey Jacobs, or Joel Mandel are ‘good/bad’ ppl; I’m saying their reliability needs to be scrutinised since all 3 were involved in Depp’s previous lawsuit against TMG. All of them,” one Twitter user wrote.
On Thursday, Mandel denied the claims that he did not file the Depp’s taxes for 17 years and that his company stole $600 million, the number Mandel stated Depp earned in the period of time that TMG represented him.
The John C. Depp, II v. Amber Laura Heard trial continues on Thursday, and Newsweek will be covering all the breaking stories from the Fairfax County courtroom on our live blog.
Newsweek reached out to a representative for Johnny Depp for comment.