The brother of Jeff Bezos’ girlfriend says in new court papers filed in support of his defamation suit against the billionaire that his career has been severely damaged by false accusations about leaking inappropriate photos of the Amazon founder to the media.
Michael Sanchez, a Hollywood talent manager and brother of Bezos’ 50-year-old girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, maintains in a Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed on Jan. 31 that Bezos and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker, falsely told journalists that he had leaked “graphic, nude photographs” of Bezos to The Enquirer.
In a sworn declaration, Sanchez says the damage to his image is significant. He says that at a popular West Hollywood restaurant where celebrities gather, producer-writer-and director Dyan Traynor yelled, “No one in Hollywood will ever work with you again” at the plaintiff in front of his best client.
“My reputation has been severely tarnished,” he says. “Many people have refused to work with me or produce my television and film projects.”
Bezos, 56, is seeking dismissal of the suit on free-speech grounds, but Sanchez says a judge should deny the motion.
“I never had and never provided pictures of Mr. Bezos’ genitalia to The Enquirer, or anyone else for that matter, and my sister knew it,” Sanchez says. “Any statement to the contrary is a fabrication.”
Sanchez says that, to the contrary, he confirmed with his sibling, Bezos and de Becker that he “neither possessed nor disclosed explicit photos of Mr. Bezos’ genitalia. Ms. Sanchez told me that she also informed Mr. de Becker and Mr. Bezos that I could not have leaked explicit photos of Mr. Bezos because she never sent them to me. She also told me that both Mr. de Becker and Mr. Bezos believed me and her.”
Among its other claims, Sanchez’s suit says his sister and Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the world’s richest man, kept their affair secret on the advice of a psychic. Sanchez also said his home was searched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The Enquirer story, published online on Jan. 9, 2019, contained reproductions of text messages from Bezos to Lauren Sanchez. The tabloid later claimed to have photos of Bezos in various states of undress, but did not publish them.
The lawsuit blames Bezos and de Becker for spreading what it calls “the false narrative” that Sanchez had betrayed his sister by peddling the story to The Enquirer.
In court papers filed Feb. 3 seeking dismissal of the Sanchez suit on First Amendment grounds, Bezos’ lawyers argue that Sanchez betrayed the couple and then “exploited his own leaks to The Enquirer by seeking attention from the press, inserting himself into story after story.”
The Bezos attorneys maintain that countless reports, as well as a statement by The Enquirer, “exposed the appalling truth that Michael Sanchez betrayed his sister by selling her out to the Enquirer by providing it with personal information and text messages after he was paid $200,000.”
But Sanchez says in his declaration that he tried to be helpful to his sister and Bezos and give them advice about the best way to tell the public about their relationship.
“In a contract dated January 1, 2019, in anticipation of the pending public disclosure of her affair, my sister formally retained me to provide crisis management, strategic communications, public and media relations services,” Sanchez says. “I also provided Mr. Bezos with talking points for public appearances related to the matter.”
Sanchez says he later concluded that The Enquirer “had received information and materials about the affair from sources other than myself.”
The plaintiff says he does not know how many sources The Enquirer had, but believes they included one of his sister’s trusted employees who worked on her “glam squad” inside her home, and Saudi Arabian officials who hacked into and downloaded the contents of Bezos’ cell phone after an encrypted video was sent to Bezos from the WhatsApp account of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.
Sanchez further says that on Jan. 9, 2019, against his advice, Bezos publicly announced his divorce from MacKenzie Bezos via Twitter. That same day, according to Sanchez, his sister told her then-husband, Patrick Whitesell, more about her affair with Bezos.”
Sanchez says he believes Whitesell “promptly leaked the affair” to Page Six of the New York Post.
He further says he learned that Amazon investigators told Bezos and de Becker that he was “involved in a conservative conspiracy to harm Mr. Bezos” and that he was responsible for leaking explicit photos of the billionaire.
Bezos and de Becker knew that Sanchez was friends with Roger Stone and Carter Page, former advisers to President Trump, according to Sanchez.
“My friend Carter Page also informed me that Mr. de Becker told reporters for the Daily Beast that I was involved in a conservative conspiracy with Roger Stone and Carter Page to harm Mr. Bezos,” Sanchez says.
Judge John P. Doyle, who is presiding over the case, has scheduled a hearing Wednesday to decide when Bezos’ dismissal motion will be heard.
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