A caretaker for former Yahoo! and Warner Bros. executive Terry Semel claims in newly filed court papers that the ex-CEO’s wife did not immediately allow a doctor to give him antibiotics when he was sick with pneumonia this winter.
The sworn declaration of Maria Iraheta was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court several days after Semel’s son asked that a judge appoint a conservator to manage his 75-year-old father’s finances. He says in his May 10 petition that his dad has Alzheimer’s disease and is mentally incapable of handling his own affairs. Irahata says the onetime studio chief communicates orally, but “frequently his speech is incoherent.”
Semel’s wife currently has sole control over her husband’s finances and there is dissension between her and some of his four children, according to the petition filed on behalf of 39-year-old Eric Semel.
Iraheta says in her sworn declaration that she was hired by Semel’s wife, Jane, in July 2016. She said she arrived at her night shift in January to find him “feverish and coughing.”
Semel was taken to a hospital, where an emergency room doctor took a chest X-ray and diagnosed him with pneumonia, according to Iraheta.
“The doctor wanted to prescribe antibiotics for Terry, but Jane refused,” Iraheta says in the declaration. “Jane said taking too much medicine is bad for you. Instead, Jane asked the doctor to prescribe cough syrup.”
Iraheta said she was eventually able to give Semel antibiotics and believes her boss’ personal assistant/driver succeeded in convincing Jane Semel it was the wiser course of action.
Iraheta says in her declaration that Jane Semel incorrectly told her that Semel had access to oxygen in his room at the Motion Picture & Television Fund-operated retirement community in Woodland Hills. She said Semel’s oxygen levels were very low the previous night.
“There was an is no oxygen in Terry’s room,” Iraheta states. “Once Terry and I got back to the nursing home, I closely monitored Terry’s oxygen levels and thankfully, he recovered without the help of additional oxygen.”
A hearing is scheduled Thursday on Eric Semel’s request that attorney Andrew Wallet, a co-conservator of singer Britney Spears, be named to manage his father’s financial affairs and to make sure he has the proper living arrangements. His petition says Jane Semel relocated her husband from their Bel-Air estate to a one-bedroom apartment at the MPTF facility.
Since the move from Bel-Air, Semel communicates less than before, according to Iraheta, who assists her boss in feeding, grooming, bathing and giving medications.
Jane Semel also has changed some of her husband’s medications, leaving him “agitated and restless,” according to Iraheta, who says Semel’s wife also controls what he eats.
“Jane restricts Terry’s diet,” Iraheta says in the declaration. “He is not allowed to eat a lot or have any carbohydrates or sweets.”
Semel was the chairman and CEO of Yahoo! from 2001 to 2007. Before that, he spent 24 years at Warner Bros., where he served as chairman and co-CEO, resigning amid shareholders’ dissatisfaction over his compensation package.
In 2004, the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute was renamed the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. At the time, the university said the couple’s $25 million gift was one of the nation’s largest to be dedicated exclusively to the better understanding of the brain.
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