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AEG – Jackson trial DAY 16. SHAWN TRELL presenting the AEG Insurance Soap Opera

June 2, 2013
Shawn Trell and Kathy Jorrie

Shawn Trell and Kathy Jorrie

Shawn Trell and his testimony are known to almost all of us by now. He is the Senior Vice-President and General Counsel of AEG and the top man assigned by AEG to speak on behalf of their company.

He is also the one who verified as true the answers of other AEG bosses made in the interrogaries submitted by the Jacksons’ side.

He is also the person who together with lawyer Kathy Jorrie drafted a contract with Michael Jackson and helped draft the contract with Tohme.

But the deed this top AEG boss will go down into history for is the fact the he ridiculed Michael with another of their board members, also a lawyer, with whom they exchanged messages about Michael being a ‘freak’. 

Unfortunately the word is no longer a shock to us as the media has somewhat dulled our perception of it but its use by Shawn Trell and his staff makes us wonder – why did AEG so consistently seek Michael’s cooperation if they so deeply despised him and shunned him as ‘creepy’? Is it because they really needed him as a tool for generating money only?

‘FREAK’

The true attitude of AEG to Michael Jackson whose cooperation they were so persistently seeking was found out by us from the emails about the day when Shawn Trell, Paul Gongaware and Randy Phillips were to go to Michael’s house to sign a contract there. Together with the ‘freakish’ news about AEG these emails tell us that though the contract papers were dated January 26th the actual signing took place on January 28th.

The ABC7 Court News tweets say about all of it:

Email on 1/28/09 from Gongaware to Phillips: MJ still on today, right?

Panish noted the contract signing was on the 28th and not 26th as Trell referred to.

I don’t believe he was misrepresenting the truth. It was Wednesday 28, not Monday the 26, Trell said.

From Phillips to Gongaware, cc’d Trell: 5pm at 100 Carolwood Drive. You and Shaw should be there

From Trell to Ted Fikre (attorney on the board of AEG) on 1/28/09 FYI…

From Fikre to Trell on 1/28/09, in response, three minutes later “Does this mean you get to meet the freak?”

Fikre is the general counsel for AEG, Panish said.

Panish: And this is the kind of respect your lawyer shows to the artist referring him as a freak?

Trell: you have to ask Mr. Fikre

From Trell to Fikre on 1/28/09 “Apparently. Not sure how I feel about that. Interesting for sure, but kind of creepy.”

Panish: Have you ever told Mr. Anschutz that his general counsel at AEG referred to MJ as a freak?

Trell: No.

Jackson’s attorney Brian Panish had this reaction outside court: “This exemplifies AEG had no respect for Mr. Jackson.

Panish cont’d: “All he was to them was a vehicle to make money.”

Panish cont’d: We’re going to continue to prove that for members of the board and attorneys to refer to him as that is disgraceful”

Panish cont’d: we’re going continue to show and prove what AEG is all about. This was just the tip of the iceberg.”

The man who they were so low an opinion of impressed Trell by standing up and meeting him at the door, by a firm handshake and an unnecessary introduction of himself “I’m Michael” which showed him to be a person whose fame never went into his head. Trell thought the introduction funny as Michael was really ‘a very distinct person’. The tweets continue:

Bina showed the jury the final tour agreement. Trell said he went to MJ’s home at Carolwood to sign it.

He seems very personable when I met him, I thought it was very interesting when he got up and met me at the door, Trell explained.

Upon arrival, Trell said Mr. Jackson got up from where he was seated, and said ‘Hi, welcome, I’m Michael.”

Trell said it was pretty funny, since he was a very distinct person.

Trell said they shook hands, he had a good firm handshake and his voice was not what people think.

He popped up, came over, introduced himself, was very cordial, there was a real positive energy, good vibe in the room, Trell said.

He seemed genuinely enthused, Trell added. “He had the contract in front of him, said he read every page, seemed very enthused.”

Trell said they all signed it and Mr. Jackson was really keen on the 3-D stuff, that he was already down the road in his mind.

Besides Michael’s cordiality and politeness the above struck me by two important points. The first is that AEG claims that Michael read every page of the contract though from Frank Dileo we know that Michael just “heard” the contract read to him four times, and the second point is that “they all signed it”.

WHO SIGNED THE AEG/ MICHAEL JACKSON CONTRACT?

Well, if all of them signed it then let us recall who was supposed to be there at all. The AEG side was represented by Gongaware, Trell, Phillips and Michael Jackson was also to sign the contract as an individual and head of his company. The others present included Tohme, Dennis Hawk (Tohme’s attorney whom Trell repeatedly calls Michael’s attorney) and Peter Lopez, who was Michael Jackson’s real attorney at the time.

Now assuming that only two parties signed the contract and all others acted as only witnesses to the deal I absolutely do not understand why we have no signatures of Trell and Gongaware on the contract papers.

First it made me think that the copy of the contract available to us was wrong and they are talking of some other papers. But the comparison of the various paragraphs quoted at the trial with the text of ‘our’ contract shows that it is one and the same document – at least the text of it quoted up till now has been the same.

image001 (22)

The last page of the “contract” available to us. it is definitely not signed by ‘all of them’

On the other hand Trell was talking of four drafts of the contract so ours may be only one of the drafts. But if our copy is a draft only why did it carry the signatures of Phillips and Michael Jackson?  (no matter how strange looking these signatures are). Is it because Phillips and Michael were indeed signing only the letter of intent which said that a definitive agreement was yet to be agreed and finalized in the future?

Can it be that the papers they are discussing at the trial are different from ours and the right paper is indeed signed by all the parties? And they simply put a retroactive date on the document as everyone (for example, Ms. Stebbins) goes on talking of the contract being executed on January 26?

These questions I cannot answer as I have not seen those papers, but all this meddling with the dates and signatures sounds very strange. And AEG emails like the one sent on January 5, 2009 are only adding more doubt to the picture:

  • “Final contract taking too long, we need to get it done any way we can”.

The above email was produced by Brian Panish to Gongaware on week 5 of the trial but I thought in necessary to mention it here as it shows that AEG was ready to resort even to unconventional methods and do it “any way they could” in order to get Michael Jackson into their trap.

For people who were were of so low an opinion of Michael Jackson this ardent desire to get him no matter what makes it look especially strange. If they thought so bad of him why did they need him so badly then? Is it because they were going to use him as a “vehicle to make money” as Brian Panish put it?

The discrepancy in the dates is not the only factor that makes me think that not is all okay with the AEG contract papers.

During the recross-examination of Trell the AEG lawyer Ms. Stebbins asked Trell about three contracts signed on the same date. One was for a tour arrangement with Michael, another one was between AEG and Tohme and the third one was for developing three movies with the help of AEG which never realized (this one was for smokescreen only).

As regards these three contracts Stebbins said that all of them were signed on the same day. And when the judge asked to remind her of the date of signing one of those deals (with Tohme) Trell answered:

  • “It is date the 24th. It was signed on the 26th of January”.

But if one of them was signed on January 26 and all the three were signed on the same day then it means that all of them should have been signed on January 26th, so the above Trell’s clarification does not clarify anything but only seeds more doubt about what he is saying:

Stebbins: Mr. Trell, if I recall correctly where we left off yesterday, we were discussing an agreement between AEG Live, Dr. Tohme Tohme, and Michael Jackson that had been executed the same day as the tour agreement. And I’d like to put back up exhitibe 2320 and just ask a few more questions about that.

A: Okay.

Judge about Tohme’s agreement: Remind me what it was signed?

Trell: It’s dated the 24th. It was signed on the 26th of January.

..

Stebbins: And there was one other agreement that was executed on January 26th, was there not?

A. That’s correct.

Now that I am trying to find an explanation to these inconsistencies in the dates the only one that comes to my mind is that on January 26th   Randy Phillips and Tohme Tohme indeed signed a contract between AEG and Tohme (in Michael’s absence)  and made a compilation of papers for the tour agreement with Michael. The shell of the tour agreement was a letter of intent signed by Michael while the inside pages most probably come from a different document. These compilation papers are the ones we have now.

If AEG really has a contract signed by all of them on January 28 hopefully one day we will be able to see this precious document. To be able to identify it the thing to look for will be the signatures of everyone attending that meeting, especially two Michael’s signatures (as all the others are no problem):

Panish: And this contract is signed by everyone?

Shawn Trell: Yes.

AGREEMENT WITH TOHME

I said that the contract between Randy Phillips and Tohme could be signed in the absence of Michael Jackson. This is because AEG did not pay Tohme and this is how we learn that Michael did not authorize payment of $100,000 to Tohme and probably never agreed to it.

The reasons for this non-authorization could be only two – either Michael was not present at signing that document and never authorized the deal (under the power of attorney Tohme was already entitled to 10% of Michael’s earnings) or Michael did not authorize it later when he realized that Tohme had been working against his interests.

From Panish’s questions to Trell we also learn that there was some mysterious “September agreement” with Tohme which Trell  had nothing to do with. As to the January 26th AEG/Tohme agreement Trell actually drafted it himself.

Trell confirms that Dr. Tohme Tohme is no doctor, but at the time of making that agreement thought that he was Michael’s manager and an officer in the MJJ Productions company:

Panish: He’s not a doctor, is he?

A. I don’t think so, no

Q. Dr. Tohme Tohme was Mr. Jackson’s acting manager?

A. He was… yes.

Q. And Dr. Tohme Tohme’s compensation of $100,000 per month was included in production costs?

A. Yes.

Shawn Trell confirms that Dr. Tohme Tohme is not a doctor

Shawn Trell confirms that Dr. Tohme Tohme is not a doctor

Panish reminded Trell that Michael was the only officer in MJJ Productions company and that AEG had that information in writing at least 12 days before making Tohme’s contract. But you cannot imagine how naïve these top AEG bosses are – Trell believed Tohme’s word and said he “had no reason to disbelieve him” even though he received information in writing to the opposite.

This was found out in connection with the letter Trell sent to the Estate almost immediately after Michael’s death requiring confirmation that they would be paid back all the money they spent on the tour. The letter is very important in and of itself:

Q. So within 2 or 3 days of Mr. Jackson’s death you drafted a letter to get confirmation of whether or not AEG would recover the money they invested in the production of This Is It.

A. Yes, that was, what was going on… the nature of the letter.

Q. And you Sir wrote in this document that Dr. Tohme Tohme was an officer of the artist’s company MJJ Productions, is that correct.

A. Yes, that’s correct.

Q. But you knew as of January 2009 that wasn’t true.

A. As of January 14th I knew that.

Q. You are a lawyer.

A. Yes.

Q. You know what fiduciary duty is.

A. Yes, that’s acting in the best interest of the party.

Q. That means acting in the best interest of someone you represent like Mr. Jackson.

A. I don’t know what you mean, in what context are you asking me this question.

Q. You have a fiduciary duty as a lawyer to do certain things

A. I don’t know the context you are asking me in.

Q. So you received information in writing Dr. Tohme Tohme was not an officer of Mr. Jackson’s company MJJ Productions?

A. Yes, back in January.

Q. And you had nothing in writing that said Dr. Tohme was an officer of Mr. Jackson’s company?

A. That’s right, Dr. Tohme Tohme verbalized that to me and I had no reason to disbelieve.

Q. As a lawyer you know everyone who has a company files with secretary of state, who the company officers are. Did you see any such filing?

A. I haven’t.

Q. Have you ever looked, for any other potential officers?

A. No.

Q. That information is easily available online who officers are for businesses.

A. I didn’t know that.

Q. You know as of today that Dr. Tohme Tohme was not an officer of MJJ Productions.

A: No, he said he was, I had no reason to disbelieve him.

Q: Did you know Dr. Tohme was not an officer of Mr. Jackson’s company at the time of your letter?

A.No.

Q. And you drafted a letter to Dr. Tohme Tohme ‘s management service that Mr. Jackson didn’t approve payment over $100,000 for him.

Q. I worked on that draft.

Tohme and Phillips are together approaching the hospital to which Michael Jackson had been taken

Tohme and Phillips are together approaching the hospital to which Michael Jackson has been taken

The one who told Trell that Tohme would be Michael’s manager in connection with the tour was Randy Phillips. Phillips was also the guy who negotiated Tohme’s salary. We get a clear impression that everything was agreed about by the two pals – Randy Phillips and Tohme – and Michael most probably had nothing to do with it.

From the piece below we also learn that Tohme was planning to “reform management” (?)  All this makes me think that now we are only scratching the surface of this strange AEG/Tohme business that took place behind Michael’s back.

This business is indeed so strange and so secretive that Trell had a very hard time admitting a simple fact mentioned above – that Michael did not authorize payment to Tohme. Panish had to use his deposition to refresh his memory of it. Trell couldn’t explain either whether they paid Tohme directly and continued dancing around the idea that Tohme’s salary was another of those ‘production costs’:

Mr. Panish: You know what, let’s play your deposition, in your deposition it says, the September agreement with Dr. Tohme you had nothing to do with. Yet you drafted the document that would determine Dr. Tohme Tohme’s compensation, so how is it, you were not involved?

A. Erm… no I didn’t say that, I said I drafted the document.

Q. So the document you drafted, Dr. Tohme was getting paid directly by AEG.

A. That was a production cost.

Q. That document you drafted, AEG Live was to pay the money directly to Mr.Tohme?

Objection.

Q.The agreement with AEG Live and Dr. Tohme Tohme, AEG were making the payment to him, yes?

A.The obligation was made under Mr. Jackson’s company.

Q. Sir… was AEG Live paying Dr. Tohme directly?

A.Yes.

Q. And it was Dr. Tohme who suggested the $100,000 figure?

A. I don’t know, this was between Mr. Jackson and Dr. Tohme Tohme.

Q. You didn’t talk to Mr. Jackson, did you?

A. No.

Q. Mr. Randy Phillips has discussion with Dr. Tohme Tohme, doesn’t he?

A. Yes, Mr. Phillips has discussion with Dr. Tohme Tohme.

Q, And it was Mr. Phillips that told you Dr. Tohme Tohme would be the manager in connection with this tour?

A. Yes.

Q. The amount of $100,000 to be paid to Dr. Tohme Tohme was agreed by AEG.

A. I think AEG were facilitating an agreement between Mr.Jackson and Dr. Tohme Tohme.

Mr. Panish plays deposition. In your deposition it says, Dr. Tohme Tohme was going to be reforming management.

A.Yes.

Q. In contract with the tour and he was going to get money from AEG Live.

A. That was what was decided between Dr. Tohme and Mr. Phillips.

Q. And the reason AEG Live declined payment to Dr. Tohme Tohme, because you learned Mr. Jackson didn’t authorize the payment.

A.That’s not correct.

Objection. Overruled.

Judge: Play the deposition.

Q. What was the reason AEG declined to pay Dr. Tohme Tohme?

A,. It was my understanding that the payment was not authorized by Mr. Jackson.

Q. And you have no evidence why Mr. Jackson didn’t authorize payment.

A. Correct.

Q. And to your knowledge and what your understanding Dr. Tohme Tohme was not paid based on … Mr. Jackson didn’t authorize payment.

Objection. Overruled.

Q. So I just played you the deposition, and the payment was not authorized by Mr. Jackson?

A.Correct.

Q. Have you ever dealt with any other artist agreement where AEG Live advanced payment for the artist’s personal manager?

A. AEG paid managerial costs.

Q. Sir, let me ask you again, has there been any other tour agreement that AEG Live has made where they pay the artist’s personal manager’s salary?

A. No.

Trell constantly tells us that Tohme’s salary was a production cost (as if it explains anything) and to clarify the matter we need to look up the AEG contract. Over there Tohme’s salary is indeed stated as a production cost only we get a clear impression that production costs were none of Michael’s business.

Contract point 6.8 says:

  • With the exception of the monthly fee owing under the terms of a separate agreement with TT International, LLC for the services of Dr. Tohme Tohme (not to exceed $100,000 per month), which shall be included in the Production Costs, Artistco shall be responsible for and shall pay all costs associated with management [ ] of Artist and/or Artistco.

So the Artist and his company will be responsible for all management costs except Tohme’s fee because this fee will be included in the Production Costs. But since Michael is not to pay this fee (because it will be included in these costs) we understand it that not only Tohme’s salary but all production costs are not his responsibility, but AEG’s.

The Definitions appendix

The Definitions appendix (click to enlarge)

On the other hand their appendix to contract stealthily says that Production costs were Michael’s responsibility, but the way this was worded it could be noticed only by the most observant of readers:

 Exhibit A, point 3:

  • “Artist’s Net Tour Income means the Contingent Compensation minus the sum of Production Costs…”.

This appendix is undated and unsigned, at least in our version of the documents, but it is this paper that AEG now regards as the crucial one, as the contract’s interpretation of the same matter is somewhat different (as you’ve seen above).

This is the beauty of having two opposite documents in one agreement. Depending on your immediate needs you can use one or the other, and both times you will be right.

TOHME’S JOB WAS TO ASSIST IN TASKS ‘REQUESTED BY THE PROMOTER’ TOO!

Ms. Stebbins asked Shawn Trell about the nature of their contract with Tohme and as we could easily expect Tohme’s main duty was assisting in “production-related tasks reasonably requested by the Promoter”.

Despite that Trell claims that it was Michael Jackson who wanted an agreement with Tohme. He seems to be telling us that Michael Jackson wanted this agreement with AEG to let Tohme do what AEG wanted of him and at the expense of a mere $100,000 for MJ:

Stebbins: Mr. Trell, if I recall correctly where we left off yesterday, we were discussing an agreement between AEG Live, Dr. Tohme Tohme, and Michael Jackson that had been executed the same day as the tour agreement. And I’d like to put back up exhibit 2320 and just ask a few more questions about that.

A: Okay.

Q. Mr. Trell, can you tell me what the idea was behind this agreement, to the extent you know?

A. The idea behind this particular agreement is that Michael wanted Dr. Tohme Tohme on the tour performing certain functions in connection with it. As it’s spelled out here, that those services may include those types of things.

Q. So are those the services spelled out there in Paragraph 2 in that second sentence?

A.Right. ”Acting as a liaison with the Artist, coordinating publicity and other activities with the artist in connection with the tour and other matters. Assisting with the creation of the tour, creative artwork in connection with the tour, and assisting with the coordination of musicians and dancers and other production-related tasks reasonably requested by the Promoter”

Q. So Dr. Tohme was Mr. Jackson’s personal Manager, as you testified yesterday?

A.That’s right.

Q. And do you have any idea whether this was the only compensation that Mr. Jackson would be paying his Manager, Dr. Tohme?

A. I do not know, no.

Let us put aside the absurd idea that Michael was to willingly pay Tohme under AEG’s contract or all that nonsense about Tohme rendering Michael Jackson help in the “creative artwork”,  and pay attention to “tasks reasonably requested by the Promoter” instead.

Murray's contract also said that he was to perfom services "reasonably requested by the Promoter"

Murray’s contract also said that he was to perfom services requested by AEG. The only difference is that this time AEG chooses to call itself a Producer.

Look at this wording – it is exactly the same as in Murray’s contract!  And the same as in the contracts of  Karen Faye, Travis Payne and probably others. All of them were to perform the duties requested of them by AEG!

It seems that AEG was employing the same formula to absolutely everyone and some of these people were Michael’s personnel only nominally.

Conrad Murray was in no way different from the rest of them – all were directly reporting to AEG, were to perform the services requested of them by AEG, were to be temporarily on the AEG payroll and finally, by some freakish AEG’s twist, all the expenses on their services were meant to turn into Michael’s responsibility and were to be covered by him.

So first they make all these people work for them and then they charge all the expenses for this work to Michael’s account!

Have you ever seen anything like that?

I haven’t.

MURRAY AS ANOTHER OF THOSE INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS

I had one idea when looking at all this outrage. If AEG claims that all costs on these people were to be covered by Michael anyway what difference does it make if Michael did or did not put his signature under Murray’s contract Whether with a signature or without it all of it was ‘production cost’ and according to AEG Michael was to cover all the costs anyway.

The only thing the absence of the signature means is that Michael either didn’t want Murray (same as he didn’t want Tohme) or that he was in total disagreement with the fact that they were placing those production costs on his shoulders.

Other than that I see absolutely no difference between all these oontractors including Murray, and the pattern of AEG’s work with them looks to me absolutely the same.  Michael brings in a person into the tour (or the person forces himself in as Tohme did), AEG signs a contract with him/her stating their usual demand to perform duties requested by AEG, then they temporarily put this person on their budget as production costs, and finally they charge all these costs to Michael Jackson!

Doesn’t it look like a standard procedure for them if they claim that all production costs were Michael Jackson’s duty from the very start of it?

Then why pretend that Michael was to put his signature on Murray’s contract? Even if he had and the contract had been executed Michael would have had to cover the expenses on Murray anyway. And this is exactly the reason why AEG did include Murray into the report they sent to the Estate asking them to cover $300,000 for two months of his ‘services’.

Feeling that there is a need to draw a line between Conrad Murray and the others, though all of them do fall into the AEG standard pattern of contracting, Shawn Trell is saying now that listing the expenses on Murray as production costs was a mistake.

He wants to tell us that costs on Murray should have been listed as ‘advances’, however here AEG has another problem – for all advances given to Michael he had to give them a promissory note where he was again promising to pay them with all his assets. And for Murray they have no such promissory note, hence the impossibility to call costs on Murray an advance and this way differentiate him from all other independent contractors.

The other difference of the advances was that they were to be recouped to AEG by all means and this is why were to be fixed by promissory notes:

Panish: For 10% AEG was going to engage third parties for the production of the shows?

A. Yes.

Q. Was Dr. Murray listed as part of production … mistakenly?

A. Yes.

Q. Was Dr. Murray listed as part of the production costs?

A. It he was listed, it was incorrectly as a production cost.

Q. Was it listed, yes or no?

A. Yes.

Q. And additional advances would be made to Mr. Jackson, on a promissory note that was going to be made?

A. If a promissory note was signed, AEG would advance Mr. Jackson additional monies at their discretion.

Q. And AEG would recoup this from Mr. Jackson’s contingent compensation, correct?

A. Yes.

No, charging the Estate $300,000 for Murray and calling it ‘production costs’ was absolutely no mistake. Same as with all other independent contractors it was a standard AEG procedure with absolutely no difference from all the other independent contractors they were signing contracts with.

The ‘mistake’ was only in the fact that they stated Conrad Murray’s sums as the one already spent on him or the expenses incurred, but over here I tend to believe that his was a sort of an intentional mistake.

The way this ‘mistake’ was found during the trial was quite a spectacle.  I’ve retyped the full of it as every Trell’s answer here is priceless. Please don’t be surprised that Trell feigns complete amnesia as regards the report sent to the Estate and the letter they hand delivered to the Estate by a messenger – there is a very big reason for it which will be discussed later. The letter was sent on July 17th 2009 (*** the July 7th date is wrong and was corrected by another transcript). 

Panish: After Mr. Jackson died, AEG sent a letter and finance report to the Michael Jackson’s Estate requesting Monies it wanted for the cost of the cancelled This Is It tours.

A. I don’t recall.

Q. Did you get a copy of the letter that was sent to the Estate?

A. I am sure I have it, if it was sent, it’s been a long time since that date, so I don’t recall right now.

Q. Have you sent any letters to the Estate after Michael Jackson died to recoup the cost of Production of the cancelled This Is It tour?

A. I don’t recall.

Panish: Please show defendant exhibit number 9332-004

Q. Is that the letter you drafted to the Michael Jackson Estate?

A. Sorry I don’t recall without reading it.

Q. All right, let’s see the letter, is it correct you were copied on this letter?

A. Yes.

Q. Ok, and this is from AEG.

A. It is from AEG Live.

Q. The letter is dated July 7th *** 2009 and it says “Hand delivery”, this was by a messenger?

A. Yes.

Q. In this first paragraph it says, this is the report of expenses incurred by us, refers to agent.

A. Yes.

Q. And it’s signed by Mr. Webking, Mr. Phillips and Ms. Kathy Jorrie and yourself had copies.

A. Yes.

Q. And it says the report of the cost is attached.

A. I will need to see what was attached.

Panish: Sure, that’s the next page, see this schedule that was sent with the letter.

Q. This was sent to the estate by AEG in an attempt to try to recoup expenses on the This Is It cancelled tour?

A. This was sent for the purposes of accounting, and what was owed to AEG Live for the cancelled tour by the Michael Jackson Company.

Q. And the letter reads “If you wish to see the documents we have assembled, all of the transactions in support of this report you may do so at our office, for your review”. Did you receive this?

A. I was copied, so I presume I was sent the copies.

Q. You do not dispute Webking was authorized to do this?

A. He is the CFO, he is authorized to send the report.

Q. Is that a yes?

A Yes.

Q. You expect him to be honest in what he is trying to recoup, right?

A. Yes.

Q. Let’s go to the attachment, now on the report, down below it says “medical management” 430 mark, that’s the number allocated to Paul Gongaware as we already established with Ms. Hollander. That is the CFO of ALL Live attempting to, which you are copied in, recoup monies from the estate after Michael Jackson died.

A. Yes, I see that line.

Q. That is a request for $300,000 for Dr. Murray, AEG was trying to get from Michael Jackson‘s Estate days after Michael Jackson died.

A. I don’t know about that, you will have to talk to Mr. Webking about that and what’s included on that report.

Q. It is included in the production cost as money AEG Live were trying to recoup from the Michael Jackson Estate.

A. Yes.

Q. Mr. Webking is “precise” you would expect him to be very meticulous about a financial expense such as this, wouldn’t you sir?

A. Mr. Webking is detailed oriented, yes.

To close the topic of Murray as another of those independent contractors for whom AEG routinely charged the Estate with their bills let’s see what Shawn Trell said about these contractors to Ms. Stebbins and their method of building up a team for a tour. Putting Murray into the same category as people in lighting or sound business would of course be wrong because a doctor is a kind of a contractor on whose services a human life depends, but essentially the pattern is the same.

Stebbins and Trell are talking about the difference between employees and independent contractors:

Q. Is it the same process that you use when you’re engaging independent contractors on a tour?

A. Not at all.

Q. And why is that?

A. Well, again, because it’s a specific project. It’s something that’s going to come into existence and end. It has a beginning and an end. And the people necessary to make that project happen to have areas of expertise outside of people within our company [..] I mean we don’t have a sound business unit, we don’t have a lighting business unit [..] So we hire third parties for those specialties or for specific equipment, whatever the case may be. And those people come to us through one of the three channels.

Q. I was just going to ask, how do you find them?

A. Well, they’re either already known to us because we’ve worked with them in the past, all right. Or they’re known generally in the industry, and they’re referred to us, or they’re known to the artist.

Q. And when you say, “known to the artist”, what do you mean?

A. I mean they have a history, a connection, some kind of nexus with the artist.

Q. So, for instance, someone like Karen Faye on the This Is It tour.

A. Right.

Q. Which of these paths did she come to you via?

A. She was known to the artist. Travis Payne would be another example, and Kenny Ortega would be another example.

Trell says that these people are not interviewed because they have a reputation in the industry for the services they provide ( which makes me think that Murray did not have a reputation in the industry so he should have been checked) and Trell is the one who handles negotiations with these contractors and all the rest of the contracting process:

A. The contracting process, the actual, you know, submission of an agreement and any negotiation of that, that’s handled by me or somebody in my department.

Q. Your department handles the actual contracting processes?

A. That’s correct.

Q. Does AEG Live run background checks on Independent contractors?

A. No, for the reasons I gave previously. They’re known to us already, they’re known to the industry, or they’re known to the artist.

Q. Does AEG Live endeavor to provide a safe working environment for the artist it’s working with?

A. Sure. As a general matter, yes.

Q. How does it do that?

A. We do that by hiring capable people that are experts in their particular field…

So they are hiring ‘capable’ people? But how did AEG Live know that Conrad Murray was capable if they did not check? Even if Michael Jackson told them that he thought he was? Was Michael Jackson a doctor to tell them or know it himself and was he qualified enough to recommend Murray? No, of course not!

Shawn Trell and his lawyer are trying hard to convey the idea that Conrad Murray was no contractor at all, but was just a part of Michael’s entourage:

Q. Is AEG Live sometimes involved in paying or securing travel, or otherwise involved with that entourage?

A. Sure.

Q. Does it do background checks on the artist’s entourage?

A. No.

Q. Why not?

A. Because those are people the artist has around them and wants with them as they tour. It would be misplaced or misguided for us to inject ourselves into the personal relationship or affairs of an artist and those types of people.

This attracted my attention. So they think that it is “misplaced and misguided for them to inject themselves into the person affairs of an artist?”

The good manners Trell is suddenly displaying now look especially funny in comparison with the contract AEG  drafted for Conrad Murray where they allowed themselves exactly the opposite – to inject themselves into Michael’s life by making Murray do what was requested of him by the Promoter.  The same goes for Gongaware’s email reminding Murray who was paying him money and what services were expected of him in return.

When it comes to their business interests these guys are cutting other people’s throats but if you ask them what they are doing they will feign surprise and even teach others that it is ‘misplaced to inject themselves into the personal life’ of those whom they have just massacred.

And how does Trell dare imply that Conrad Murray was simply part of Michael’s entourage if they had contractual relations with this person and demanded all those things of the doctor? Is it customary for a promoter to demand anything of the entourage travelling with the artist?

No, Murray was definitely in AEG’s employment and was no different from all the other independent contractors like Karen Faye or Travis Payne. The only difference was in the scope of their responsibilities and the specifics of their working hours – they worked in the daytime and on the stage, and the doctor was to work after the rehearsals and at home. But all the rest of it was the same.

And there is no need to throw into the discussion ideas like “we are not responsible for what the doctor is doing to him in his bedroom”. They are very much responsible for it if they themselves chose to draft a contract with the doctor along the same lines as with the others and demand the same things of him which they demand of other contractors.

TRELL WAS ‘NOT AWARE’ OF THE BUDGET LIMIT

Let me state that neither me nor Mr. Panish believe that all production expenses were to be really covered by Michael Jackson.  The questions Mr. Panish asked Trell are clearly meant to show that AEG is simply making a fool of us by claiming that this was the case.

The most Michael was to cover were the sums which were in excess of the $7,5 million budget limit and I need to admit here that there is a short provision about it in the contract. For some reason the point was hard to notice and I did see it only on the third or forth time of reading their masterpiece of a contract.

However even with this point in place, for every production ‘advance’ spent AEG was supposed to receive Michael’s consent (if they indeed wanted Michael to cover it), but it seems that they never did. In fact Trell drafted an agreement to approve the increased production costs only after Michael’s death:

Q. There was a cap on production costs for $7, 5 million

A. Yes.

Q. AEG Live was supposed to tell the artist (Mr. Jackson) of each production advance made.

A. Yes, that’s correct.

Q. And you don’t know if at all AEG Live ever informed Mr. Jackson’s company of production charges incurred, with respect to the tour, correct?

A. Ask it again please.

Q. Do you know if ever AEG Live informed Mr. Jackson’s company (MJJ Productions) of projected production costs?

A. Yes sure, there [were] conversations between AEG’s side and Mr. Jackson’s side, they were on going about the production budget.

Panish: Let’s read line 16 of your deposition, okay?

Q. Do you know how if at all AEG Live informed ArtistCo with production expenses?

A. No.

Q. Were you aware that product costs were not to exceed $7, 5 million?

A. I became aware of it through the process.

Q. Did you become aware around March of 2009?

A. I don’t recall.

Q. Saying you don’t recall means you don’t know one way or the other?

A. I mean I don’t know when the process proceeded.

Q. But you became aware it proceeded.

A. All promoter were aware..

Q. I am only asking you,  were you aware, is that a yes?

A. Yes, that’s a yes.

Q. And Sir, did you retain non-appearance insurance for This Is it?

A. Yes.

Q. For $17, 5million?

A. That’s correct.

Q. And due to the outstanding production costs, the amount of insurance was to double.

A. I believe yes.

Q. After Mr. Jackson died, you drafted an agreement to approve production costs?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you recognize this?

A. Yes.

Q. Is this the document you prepared and reviewed to testify today?

A. Yes.

Q. AEG Live needed approval to increase the budget for production costs

A. Yes.

Q. And when did you write … excuse me… when did you draft this letter, was it only 3 days after Mr. Jackson died?

A. Correct.

Q. He hadn’t even had his funeral yet, did he?

A. I don’t recall the date.

Q. So within 3 days of Mr. Jackson’s death, AEG are approaching Mr. Jackson’s Estate, to get back production costs.

A. I won’t characterize it all like that. There was management report to Dr. Tohme Tohme was on the as well as Mr. Dileo.

Q. Did you start drafting the letter on the 28th of June 2009 or the day before?

A. I don’t know.

Q. Could it have been the day after Mr. Jackson’s death on the 26th?

A. I don’t know.

Q. So within 2 or 3 days of Mr. Jackson’s death you drafted a letter to get confirmation of whether or not AEG would recover the money they invested in the production of This Is It?

A. Yes, that was , what was going on… the nature of the letter.

The first conclusion from this highly informative piece is that AEG never informed Michael about their production costs while they were incurred (though they should have). If they had Michael would have probably tried to economize and would have given up some of his most expensive ideas. However since they never told him of the sums spent he did not realize whether they were staying within the allotted budget or not. Michael never had a real concept of money, so of all people he was the last to realize even the approximate cost of the show.

Let us remember that to the question whether AEG informed Michael of production costs Trell was finally forced to say “No”.

The second conclusion is based on Trell’s reaction to their own budget. If  Shawn Trell ‘was not aware’ that there was a limit of $7, 5mln on their production costs this fully absolves us, poor laymen, of the guilt of not noticing the same after reading their contract. We didn’t draft the contract as he did,  we simply read it.

But what’s much more important is that Trell’s ‘unawareness’ will explain why Michael Jackson was also unaware of the limit on the production budget and never knew that he was made responsible for the extra sums exceeding a certain limit. How do we know that Michael did not know of that limit? And if the author of the contract Shawn Trell says he was not aware of it at least until March how could Michael Jackson be aware of it?

The comedy Trell is playing now makes it clear that they did not tell him about huge excesses in production – at least at the time when they were obliged to do it and by the way get his written approval for each extra spending. However they could break this news to him later, thus bringing the terror he was living in to its climax and delivering him a fatal blow.

AEG MUST HAVE KNOWN OF MICHAEL’S CONDITION 

And one more conclusion concerns the insurance. You remember that Randy Phillips was confidently saying that the insurance for the first 10 shows was in AEG’s pocket already sometime in February or March, and later on when they started talking about the need for the insurance again, I assumed that they had to obtain the second policy for the increased number of shows?

Well, now we learn that the insurance policy was indeed one, but the change in it was connected with their desire to double it due to the increased costs of production. The maximum capacity Lloyds allowed for the Michael Jackson tour was $17, 5 million which was less than the actual production cost, but in order to guarantee even this sum the insurers requested the second physical examination of Michael Jackson in London on July 6th.

Without the second physical the insurance policy would not be covering illness but as the deteriorating health of Michael Jackson was becoming more and more obvious to AEG they stepped up their efforts – no, not to help Michael to restore his health as one might expect – but to speedily obtain the illness insurance that would give them access to the coveted sum of $17,5 million.

It seems that the more information was coming from various people about Michael’s poor condition the more energy they were putting in obtaining that insurance. Panish showed email after email where AEG bosses were expressing concern that they were not covered for Michael’s illness.

Shawn Trell was so concerned that he asked to arrange the second physical exam on a much earlier date and began sending emails about it already at the end of May. This means that already at the end of May AEG was perfectly aware that Michael’s health was deteriorating  – otherwise I cannot explain Trell’s hurry and desire to organize the exam as soon as possible:

Q. So you didn’t have coverage for illness.

A. Correct, not until we were in London.

Q. That was a concern.

A. Sure illness is a peril and should be covered.

Q. I know there was schedule for that exam in London. So I want to show you an email where you wanted to have the exam take place sooner, is that right?

A. Yes, I am inquiring if it’s possible to change the date of the exam.

Q. These emails are May 29th and 30th.

A. Can I get these?

Q. I will work on that, all right let’s put it up. The point is you sent the email.

A. Yes.

Q. You knew it was important to get this coverage.

A. It would be important to get on this or any other matter.

Q. If you didn’t get that done, you wouldn’t get covered through sickness or death?

A. No, that’s not correct.

Q. You deny that.

A. The policy would not cover sickness but the policy would have paid out on death  [in case of an accident]

Q. Up to one day before Mr. Jackson’s death and the day he actually passed away, you were on the phone with Bob Taylor working on getting more insurance?

A. I don’t recall.

All available forces were mobilized for obtaining that insurance. Gongaware was involved, Dennis Hawk and Bob Taylor were involved, Kathy Jorrie asking Conrad Murray for help was involved, and Randy Phillips was involved too.

In fact Randy Phillips was so much involved that he even asked for term insurance on Michael Jackson (which is another name for life insurance). Getting a separate life insurance in addition to the standard insurance is totally untypical for such cases, and to me it means that AEG not only knew that Michael was ill, but also realized that he was dying. And how else can you explain that AEG suddenly started making enquiries for life insurance and several days after that Michael indeed died?

Instead of providing Michael with urgent medical help they arranged a mad race for obtaining the insurance engaging Conrad Murray in it too. Remember how many emails he received and sent on the night Michael Jackson died? And all of it was done by him at the expense of neglecting his patient by the way:

Q. The amount of coverage that was available was $17, 5million.

A. Yes, that was the maximum coverage the underwriter were willing to give policy for.

Q. The policy to effect in May, is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Non- appearance coverage, is when the artist does not perform.

A. Right.

Q. You discussed life insurance with Mr. Phillips.

A. I don’t recall.

Q. And Sir, there’s no instance when you recall AEG being covered separately except in this case?

A. Not really.

Q. Do you recall any artist AEG insured for death separate from regular insurance obtained?

A. We didn’t insure, we asked about it.

Q. You asked the insurer two days before Mr. Jackson passed to extend the term insurance?

A. Yes.

Q. And the term insurance you were looking at was Life insurance?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay, Sir…. AEG made a claim against the insurer for Mr. Jackson’s death.

A, Yes, we made the claim with the insurer.

Q. You made the claim on the night Mr. Jackson died, isn’t that right?

A. I don’t recall the date.

..

Q. And Mr. Phillips told you Mr. Jackson’s physical condition was in bad shape, prior to June 25th 2009?

A. Yes, that was on June 19th.

..

Q. Did Mr. Phillips do anything?

A. Yes.

Q. Did he call a top psychiatrist?

A. Not to my knowledge.

Q. How about a top substance abuse doctor?

A. Not to my knowledge.

Q. Any kind of medical care provider?

A. They set up a meeting with Dr. Murray.

Yes, all they did was setting a meeting on June 20th after which Randy Phillips sent a glowing report to Kenny Ortega about how much respect he had for the doctor and that they should not ‘play amateur psychiatrists or physicians’ on Michael Jackson.

This is what Randy Phillips said, but as regards what he did we find out that exactly at the same time he was looking for ways to obtain life insurance on Michael for fear they might lose money in case he died...

 THE INSURANCE SOAP OPERA

The talk about the insurance would not be complete if Shawn Trell and Ms. Stebbins had not tried to turn all that frantic run for extra insurance into a show meant to demonstrate to the jury and the public that it was done wholly in Michael Jackson’s interests.

The idea presented to the public is that AEG were fighting tooth and nail for the insurance because the policy was to cover at least part of the production costs ($17,5 million out of the $25million spent) and since these costs were Michael Jackson’s business, AEG were in fact thinking of how to relieve Michael of the financial burden and the need to pay the money back to AEG.

In short all that neglecting Michael’s health and a run for the insurance was for Michael and Michael alone.

Naturally the point that those costs were most probably never Michael’s business was not even raised. In contrast to what AEG was saying in the first years after Michael’s death about the losses they sustained, these days it is more convenient for AEG  to say that all production costs were Michael’s responsibility and they were jumping out of their skin to get the insurance in order to help Michael or his Estate to cover the production costs.

However for this theory to be consistent the succession of AEG’s actions should have been different – first they should have applied for the insurance and in case the insurance company refused to pay them only then they could have approached the Estate with a tearful plea, “You know, guys, we have done our best but they refused us and now there is no other way out for us but approach you for a compensation”.

However AEG approached the Estate already in July 2009 and this is why Shawn Trell is now feigning total amnesia when Panish asks him whether he recalls sending a hand-delivered message with a report asking the Estate  for compensation. This is also why – when Trell finally remembers the report – he still insists that it was only ‘an inquiry’  and not a request for payment.

But even despite all that on occasions he does have to admit that payment from the Estate was what AEG had in mind first and foremost. Have a look at this once again please:

Q. The letter is dated July 7th 2009 and it says “Hand delivery”, this was by a messenger?

A. Yes.

Q. In this first paragraph it says, this is the report of expenses incurred by us, refers to agent.

A. Yes.

Q. And it’s signed by Mr. Webking, Mr. Phillips and Ms.Kathy Jorrie and yourself had copies.

A. Yes.

Q. This was sent to the estate by AEG in an attempt to try to recoup expenses on the This Is It cancelled tour.

A. This was sent for the purposed of accounting, and what was owed to AEG Live for the cancelled tour by the Michael Jackson Company.

Q. Let’s go to the attachment, now on the report, down below it says “medical management” 430 mark, that’s the number allocated to Paul Gongaware as we already established with Ms. Hollander. That is the CFO of ALL Live attempting to, which you are copied in, recoup monies from the estate after Michael Jackson died.

A. Yes, I see that line.

Q. That is a request for $300,000 for Dr. Murray, AEG was trying to get from Michael Jackson‘s Estate days after Michael Jackson died.

A. I don’t know about that, you will have to talk to Mr. Webking about that and what’s included on that report.

Q. It is included in the production cost as money AEG Live were trying to recoup from the Michael Jackson Estate.

A. Yes.

During the recross examination by Ms. Stebbins Trell went out of his way to prove that the insurance was sought by AEG only because it was in the best interests of Michael’s estate (and would have been in Michael’s interests too if he had been alive and the concerts were simply cancelled):

Stebbins: Who benefits from non-appearance insurance like this?

Trell: Well, the costs that it goes to pay are the payment obligations of the Artist. So we’re being repaid our advances, but it’s an obligation of the Artist. So it benefits the ArtistCo.

Stebbins: If for some reason the tour didn’t go forward, this insurance would pay AEG Live back for those advances so that the artist didn’t have to come up with the money to repay?

Trell: [..] ..the Michael Jackson company, was obligated to pay to us the advances we made, including the production costs.

Stebbins: Could AEG Live ever have made a profit off the cancellation policy?

A.No.

Q. Why not?

A. Well, for one reason, we only get this kind of coverage for our out-of-pocket costs, the advances in this case, and secondly, in this particular case, those costs exceeded the amount of the coverage.

Q. So if there was insurance in place, and a claim was made, and for whatever reason it didn’t pay out, who would be responsible for the costs that the insurance would have otherwise covered?

A. The Michael Jackson company.

So the new AEG defense strategy is to claim that they were making frantic attempts to get the insurance policy for illness as all they cared for were Michael Jackson’s best interests – the insurance would cover the production costs which would otherwise have to be paid by Michael.

Despite these explanations sounding rather plausible I am not inclined to believe them.  Michael was dying in front of their eyes and instead of running about with the insurance they should have taken care of his health. However now they are telling us that it was better to sort out the papers and get the money than preserve Michael Jackson’s life.

And I don’t believe their statements because firstly, those production costs were most probably never Michael’s responsibility at all and by seeking that insurance AEG were taking care of themselves, their interests and their losses.

And the second reason why I don’t believe them is because we have proof that AEG couldn’t care less of Michael Jackson and of the financial burden they placed on his shoulders.

The thing is, they first made the Estate repay them all production costs on the tour in the amount of $40 million ( I wonder why the sum is so big?), but even after getting their full compensation they still greedily wanted more – from the insurance this time and with this in view went into a huge dispute with Lloyds to get extra $17,5 million on top of all the millions they got from the Estate.

From the paper prepared by the lawyers working on behalf of Lloyds we learn of a supposition that AEG and the Estate could enter a sort of an agreement on splitting the insurance sum in case the AEG claim was satisfied and the insurance proceeds were paid by Lloyds.  This way the Estate could compensate at least part of the money lost to AEG, but AEG was going to receive additional sums to the ones they had already received from the Estate.

The AEG greediness is indescribable. They would have fought Lloyds to the end if during the discovery process it had not become known that they were not entitled to any compensation from the insurance at all as there were actually no losses sustained by them in this business.  They received everything they wanted from Michael Jackson’s Estate, so there were simply no losses to declare.

When Lloyds learned about it they gasped and demanded that AEG should withdraw their claim and AEG finally did. However even when withdrawing the claim they said something to the effect that this course of action was chosen by them because otherwise they would not be able to pursue their defense strategy against Katherine Jackson.

Schreiffer's letter 1Here is an excerpt from the letter of lawyers acting on the part of Lloyds which will explain the matter further.

The letter was writtenon June 12, 2012 by P.K.Schrieffer LLP to Mr. Putnam, the AEG long-time attorney.

Please pay attention to the emphatic language used by these lawyers in respect of AEG:

“We are [..] astonished that AEG has continued to maintain the charade that it has been entitled to $17,5 million in proceeds under the policy over the past year or more in this litigation. This has forced Underwriters to incur substantial attorneys’ fees and costs in litigating a feigned dispute with AEG where no dispute, in fact, exists.

.. AEG’s conduct, including filing a motion to stay the case in the trial court and a petition for a writ of mandate in the court of appeal, continued to postpone its obligation to respond to discovery for as long as possible. This ended with Judge Mackey’s order requiring AEG to respond to discovery and to turn over documents. That order compelled AEG to disclose, for the first time, what only AEG (and perhaps the Estate and Michael Jackson Company LLC – controlled by the Estate) knew – that AEG had no entitlement to coverage because it had no compensable loss under the policy.

Schreiffer's letter 4The examples of AEG’s litigation conduct in this regard are numerous, but a few examples should make the point clear. In its motion to stay Underwriters’ action and for protective order seeking to limit Underwriters’ discovery, wherein AEG argued that it would be forced to fight a “two front war,” AEG stated in pertinent part that, “It must either give up this claim now – and lose $17, 5 million to which it is potentially entitled – or risk making judicial assertions inconsistent with its defense in the Katherine Jackson action – and lose potentially far more”.

It is now clear that at the time this motion was filed and this argument was made before the Superior Court that AEG knew that it had suffered no compensable loss under the policy, and yet proceeded to represent to the court that it had.

Similarly, in its Petition for Writ of Mandate filed in the Court of Appeal for the State of California on January 30, 2012, AEG stated in its Preliminary Statement and Basis for Writ Relief that “Insurers, by seeking to litigate this case now, attempt to force AEG Live to make an impossible choice: abandon its claim under the policy now – and lose $17, 5 million dollars in proceeds to which it is legally entitled”.

Here again, it is clear that AEG was well aware by this time that it was not “legally entitled” to any such proceeds, as it had not suffered a compensable loss under the Policy.

Schreiffer's letter 5bUnderwriters hereby demand that AEG withdraw its claim for benefits under the Policy by the close of business on June 19, 2012.

Sincerely, P.K. Schrieffer LLP

So what do we learn from the above?

  • We learn that for AEG it was an ‘impossible choice’ to give up the coveted $17,5 million though they had already received all the compensation they wanted from Michael Jackson’s Estate.
  • We also learn that AEG were not even entitled to receive the money for the simple reason that they sustained no losses. It was Michael Jackson’s Estate which had losses but absolutely not AEG. And the insurance is meant to cover losses and not make profit on another person’s death, especially if the dead man’s estate has already fully paid you everything they owed you.
  • We also learn that AEG had to drop their claims against Lloyds under the pressure of irrefutable evidence that until June last year that had been cheating on the insurers demanding money for the losses they did not have.
  • And we also learn that AEG had to give up their claim against Lloyds as they did not want to risk ‘making judicial assertions inconsistent with its defense in the Katherine Jackson action’ or in other words risk their line of defense in their fight against Michael Jackson’s mother and children.

I wonder what assertions ‘inconsistent with their defense’ at this trial are they talking about?

Are they talking of the soap opera they are telling us now about how much they needed that insurance solely for the sake of Michael Jackson’s interests in order to cover the losses from the insurance sum and relieve him of the need to pay them?

Indeed if they hadn’t dropped their claim against Lloyds it would be difficult to use this argument since they first robbed Michael’s Estate of $40 million and then wanted $17,5 million more from Lloyds on top of that sum.

Dropping the claim against Lloyds was more convenient to them as this way someone will probably believe that it is not AEG who is fraudulent and infinitely greedy, but the poor mother and children who lost their beloved son and dear daddy to this monstrous AEG machine.…

The full declaration of Paul Schreiffer on the AEG vs. Lloyds case is here: http://ru.scribd.com/doc/104751542/Declaration-of-Paul-K-Schrieffer-in-Support-of-Cetain-Underwriters-Summary-Adjudication-of-Issues

* * *

To see the full transcripts of Shawn Trell’s testimony please go to TeamMichaelJackson site.

The parts used for this posts are Part 1: http://teammichaeljackson.com/archives/8495 and Part 3: http://teammichaeljackson.com/archives/8558

Parts 2 and 4 are still in preparation there.

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