DEA Agents Sue Over 'American Gangster'

MJMANDALAY

Registered User
#1
Jan 16, 5:25 PM EST

NEW YORK (AP) -- A group of retired federal drug enforcement agents sued NBC Universal on Wednesday, saying the movie "American Gangster" falsely portrayed them as villains in the story of a Harlem heroin trafficker.

The suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, claims that the movie defamed hundreds of DEA agents and New York City police officers by claiming at the end that Frank Lucas' collaboration with prosecutors "led to the convictions of three-quarters of New York City's Drug Enforcement Agency."

Lucas, played by Denzel Washington in the film, became a government informant after his conviction in 1975, and his tips led to the prosecutions of several fellow drug dealers.

According to the lawsuit, no DEA agents or New York City police officers were ever convicted as a result of tips provided by Lucas.

"This is absolutely off the wall," said Dominic Amorosa, a prosecutor in the federal case against Lucas in 1975 who now represents the DEA agents. "I don't know what these people were thinking, but they are going to pay for it."

A Universal Pictures spokesman, Michael Moses, said in a written statement that the lawsuit is "entirely without merit."

"'American Gangster' does not defame these or any federal agents," he said, adding that the corrupt law enforcers depicted in the film were supposed to be New York police officers, not DEA agents.

In a Dec. 7 letter to Amorosa, NBC Universal Senior Vice President David Burg called the film a "fictionalized work," although at other times Universal spokesmen have said they have "every confidence that the material facts are conveyed truthfully."

Former DEA agents Jack Toal, Gregory Korniloff and Louis Diaz filed the class-action suit on behalf of themselves and 400 other agents who worked in the city between 1973 and 1985. They asked for at least $50 million in punitive damages.

"Most of the movie is not true," said Toal, who identified himself as one of the agents who worked with Lucas after he became an informant. "If they had said, 'This is based on a false story,' it would have been a lot better."

A DEA spokesman in Washington, Garrison Courtney, declined to comment, other than to confirm that none of its agents were ever charged with wrongdoing in the case.

New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said he wasn't aware of any NYPD officers ever prosecuted in connection with Lucas.

"Hollywood is famous for distorting reality," Browne wrote in an e-mail. He brushed off the idea that the department would get involved in the case. "If we sued every time the movies made reality unrecognizable, there would be time for nothing else."

Korniloff said in the suit that he was a lead agent assigned to the case and was present when agents and police officers raided Lucas' home in Teaneck, N.J. in 1975 - a scene depicted in "American Gangster."

In the Ridley Scott film, which was released in November and also featured Russell Crowe and Josh Brolin, corrupt narcotics agents shoot the drug dealer's dog, assault his wife and brazenly steal currency stashed in the house while making the arrest.

The suit said that in real life, the search was carried out legally; nearly $585,000 in currency was seized in accordance with a valid search warrant.
 

nikoloslvy

I wear my sunglasses at night...Anyone want fries?
Donator
#2
i wounder how accurate serpico was.
 

mascan42

Registered User
#3
Hmm . . . movie came out 2 months ago and nobody said shit. A week before the Academy Award nominations are announced, this comes up. Looks like they were fine with being accused in a movie, just not an award-winning movie.
 

d0uche_n0zzle

**Negative_Creep**
#4
Everyone knows Hollywood makes up shit on the fly to suit their needs.
 

HummerTuesdays

Another girrrrl!!!
#5
I have no issue with the artistic license taken. It's a movie, not a documentary. (Cue my brothers & their critique of Mel Gibson's Rev War movie.)

However, the movie makers should not be putting a false statement about people (ie, "led to the convictions of three-quarters of New York City's Drug Enforcement Agency") in writing.
 

LiddyRules

I'm Gonna Be The Bestest Pilot In The Whole Galaxy
#6
Hmm . . . movie came out 2 months ago and nobody said shit. A week before the Academy Award nominations are announced, this comes up. Looks like they were fine with being accused in a movie, just not an award-winning movie.
Actually, considering the amount of time it takes a law suit to get ready this is pretty damned timely.
Compare this to the 2004 law suit from people suing Richard Linkletter for defamation because he allegedly based the Dazed and Confused characters on them. Also consider the extreme popularity and buzz the movie had going into it and the money it made. I doubt this will get anything from the Oscars (it doesn't deserve it) so I don't think the upcoming Oscars had anything to do with it. If anything it would be because it made over $150 million at the box office.
 

Aizazzle

I always have a plan
#7
WTF? It's a fucking a movie not a documentary. Deal with it faggots!
 

HummerTuesdays

Another girrrrl!!!
#8
WTF? It's a fucking a movie not a documentary. Deal with it faggots!
Fine. I'm gonna make a movie about your life, put in some lies, and then at the end post "Aizazzle (using your RL Name, of course) is a convicted kid toucher." Do you think you'd have a problem with that? It is just a movie, after all. :action-sm
 

TheDrip

I'm bi-winning.
#9
Fine. I'm gonna make a movie about your life, put in some lies, and then at the end post "Aizazzle (using your RL Name, of course) is a convicted kid toucher." Do you think you'd have a problem with that? It is just a movie, after all. :action-sm
QFT!

Movie or not, if they're using the names and stories of real people, then they should at least make an attempt to portray those stories and people accurately.

Otherwise, just change the names completely, borrow parts from the real story and add your own creative shit in it. Then nobody is the wiser. Hell then you could say that this new character "Tank Lewis" with his informant gig, single-handedly brought down the NYPD, City Hall, Governor "Smith" and half of congress and you'll be ok.
 
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