Company Town

Stan Lee’s former manager charged with theft and elder abuse

Stan Lee, Keya Morgan
Stan Lee, left, and Keya Morgan at the world premiere of “Avengers: Infinity War” in Los Angeles in April 2018.
(Jordan Strauss / Invision)

A former business manager of Stan Lee has been charged in California with five counts of elder abuse involving the late Marvel Comics mastermind.

The felony charges filed Friday by Los Angeles County prosecutors against the 43-year-old Keya Morgan include theft, embezzlement, forgery or fraud against an elder adult, and false imprisonment of an elder adult. A misdemeanor count also alleges elder abuse.

The charges date to June, when Morgan was working closely with Lee, who died in November at 95.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Morgan, a New York native and memorabilia dealer who entered Lee’s orbit several years ago and became a central figure in the family following the death of Lee’s wife, Joan, in 2017. He ingratiated himself with the comic book legend, serving as a gatekeeper, assistant and caretaker.

The charges filed Friday represent the latest twist in the ongoing legal saga involving Lee, his associates and family members. Morgan has been a key protagonist in the disputes, pitting himself against Lee’s daughter, JC, for access to the comic book legend in his waning years.

A request for a restraining order filed last year by JC Lee alleged 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.

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His attorney Alex Kessel said Morgan is not guilty.

“He has never abused or taken advantage of Mr. Lee in any way,” Kessel said in an email. “We expect him to be completely exonerated of all charges.”

In June, attorneys for the 95-year-old Lee and his daughter were granted a restraining order against Morgan that barred contact with Lee and revealed that police were investigating Morgan for elder abuse.

Lee, co-creator of such characters as Spider-Man, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk, was for decades the face of Marvel Comics. His movie cameos, still emerging after his death in films like “Avengers: Endgame,” are a beloved element of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In recent years, Morgan had become a central figure in Lee’s private life. He has accompanied Lee to Marvel movie premieres — including last year’s opening of “Avengers: Infinity War” — and acted as Lee’s gatekeeper by approving media access for interviews. In past court filings, Morgan has been described as Lee’s “former caregiver and assistant.”

But Morgan has run into trouble with the law on more than one occasion. He was arrested last year on suspicion of filing a false police report related to a disagreement with security personnel at Lee’s home in the Hollywood Hills.

Morgan was convicted in 2017 of threatening to kill someone in a dispute between his mother and a West Hollywood property manager, according to court records. He was sentenced to probation and required to attend anger management counseling.

Morgan didn’t respond to a request for comment.

He has denied past accusations of elder abuse against Lee, writing on Twitter last year: “For over 10 years I have shown nothing but love, respect & kindness to Stan Lee, & his wife, a fact he has repeated countless time. I have NEVER EVER abused my dear friend. Everything you read in the #FakeNews is pure malicious lies & I will 100% prove it. The truth will come out.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Twitter: @NardineSaad