Comic and actress Sandra Bernhard has been sued by her former long-term manager, who has accused her of cheating charities with phony invoices, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal.
James Sliman, who worked with the ‘difficult’ star for nearly 11 years, alleges in a lawsuit filed in Kings County, New York, she forced him into doing ‘many unscrupulous, questionable and embarrassing things’ as part of a ‘hostile’ work environment.
He alleges Bernhard – who claimed she and Madonna were lovers when they were both guests on Late Night with David Letterman – cheated venues out of their cut of merchandising sales at her live performances and sent ‘phony invoices’ to bump up her interview fees, according to a New York court filing obtained by DailyMail.com.
The showbiz management veteran said he was fired by the 68-year-old star of FX drama POSE in July after she ‘could not admit that her live shows were now selling poorly and her asking fees were too high’.
‘Heartbroken’ Sliman – who has told DailyMail.com Bernhard used him as shoulder to cry on during their long business relationship – is demanding $250,000 for an alleged breach of a verbal contract, wrongful termination and commissions and fees he says he is owed.
Of the financial allegations, he tells the court: ‘In dozens of instances, maybe hundreds, Miss Bernhard coerced me into sending phony invoices from her to charity organizations, LGBT charity organizations, television shows, documentary filmmakers etc.. who wanted to interview her.
‘Whether or not she was already being paid a fee, she would insist I get them to also cover costs of her hair and make-up people.
‘When they agreed, she would tell me to say it cost $1,000 when it was really only $2-300.
‘I would send the invoices and she would pocket the money. This at times actually became a small way she could supplement her income. This from a woman who everyone knows is a multi-millionaire.’
He continues: ‘She has various ways of trying not to pay venues 20 percent of her merchandise sales, which is standard.
‘She would simply refuse to pay it, or tell them they could only have 10 percent or just lie about how much she sold. Since it was cash only, this was very easy for her. And she would tell me she never reported that money to her accountants.
‘This behavior at times caused major issues with specific venues. Then I would have to step in and smooth it over.
‘She has repeatedly coerced me into her money making schemes, so she can literally pocket as little as a couple hundred dollars or thousands,’ Sliman claimed at the top of his legal complaint filed to Kings County Superior Court in Brooklyn on July 21.