LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former business manager to Stan Lee pleaded not guilty to elder abuse charges that allege he stole from the late Marvel Comics legend and held him against his will.
Keya Morgan, 43, entered the plea in Los Angeles after authorities transported him from Arizona, where he was arrested last month.
Morgan was charged in May with five counts of elder abuse involving the late Marvel Comics mastermind including theft, embezzlement, forgery or fraud against an elder adult, and false imprisonment of an elder adult.
The charges date to June 2018, when Morgan was working closely with Lee. The comics legend, who co-created Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and Black Panther, died in November at age 95.
Alex Kessel, an attorney for Morgan, has said his client has never abused or taken advantage of Lee.
Los Angeles County prosecutors say Morgan sought to capitalize on Lee’s wealth and exert influence over him even though he had no authority to act on his behalf.
Prosecutors say Morgan pocketed more than $262,000 from autograph-signing sessions Lee did in May 2018.
Morgan at one point also took Lee from his Hollywood Hills home to a Beverly Hills condominium “where Morgan had more control over Lee,” according to California authorities.
Lee’s daughter, Joan, 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. A restraining order was granted last June that barred Morgan from contact with Lee and revealed a police elder abuse investigation.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Francis Bennett set a hearing for Thursday morning to determine the source of money offered to secure Morgan’s release. His bail is set at $300,000. Kessel said Morgan’s mother would be providing the bail money.
Lee was the public face of Marvel Comics and beloved for his appearances at comic book conventions and his cameos in Marvel movies, including a posthumous one in April’s “Avengers: Endgame.”