LOS ANGELES—A former business manager of Stan Lee was arrested Saturday on elder abuse charges involving the late comic book legend.
Keya Morgan was taken into custody in Arizona on an outstanding arrest warrant after being charged by Los Angeles County prosecutors earlier this month.
Morgan faces felony charges including theft, embezzlement, forgery or fraud against an elder adult, and false imprisonment of an elder adult. A misdemeanor count also alleges elder abuse.
Authorities say Morgan sought to capitalize on the Marvel Comic mastermind’s wealth and exert influence over Lee even though he had no authority to act on his behalf.
Police say Morgan pocketed more than $262,000 from autograph signing sessions Lee did in May 2018. Authorities say Morgan at one point also took Lee from his Hollywood Hills home to a Beverly Hills condominium “where Morgan had more control over Lee.”
Lee’s daughter said in a request for a restraining order last year that 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.
Attorney Alex Kessel has said Morgan has never abused or taken advantage of Lee. Kessel said in an email on Saturday that he had been in contact with prosecutors to arrange for Morgan to surrender on Tuesday.
“It is unfortunate that the DA and police did not honor our commitment to surrender next week and arrested him,” Kessel said in an email.
Lee died in November at the age of 95.
Morgan’s bail has been set at $300,000. He will eventually be extradited to Los Angeles to face the charges.
According to the U.S. National Institute on Aging, “Abuse can happen to anyone—no matter the person’s age, sex, race, religion, or ethnic or cultural background. Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited. This is called elder abuse.”
“Likely targets are older people who have no family or friends nearby and people with disabilities, memory problems, or dementia. Abuse can happen to any older person, but often affects those who depend on others for help with activities of everyday life—including bathing, dressing, and taking medicine. People who are frail may appear to be easy victims,” the agency says.
According to a fact sheet (pdf) from the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), the overall rate of violent crimes against the elderly have decreased from 1995 to 2015. However, assault against older adults are still underestimated.
“People age 65 and older experience the same crimes as the rest of the population, including financial victimization, neglect, and physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. However, older adults may be less likely to recover from their victimization, and are often sought out because of their age and decreased likelihood of reporting,” according to OVC.
The World Health Organization defines elder abuse as “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”
The WHO notes that “this type of violence constitutes a violation of human rights and includes physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional abuse; financial and material abuse; abandonment; neglect; and serious loss of dignity and respect.”
The most common forms of elder abuse, according to the WHO, are psychological abuse (15.7%), followed by financial abuse (6.8%), neglect (4.2%), and physical abuse (2.8%).