Patricia Cornwell, a best-selling crime novelist, testified before a jury about her lawsuit against her former accounting firm and financial manager, accusing them of allowing her to lose a sizeable chunk of her fortune.
Cornwell blamed her former accounting firm, Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP, and her financial manager there, Evan Snapper, a former principal at the New York-based firm, during three hours of testimony Friday. Cornwell claimed she has only $13 million left in her bank account after earning about $10 million a year from her best-selling novels featuring forensic examiner Kay Scarpetta, according to the Daily Mail. She blamed the firm for bad financial advice, unsuccessful real estate deals and an overly aggressive investment strategy.
To decrease her debts, she claimed she had been forced to sell off her personal helicopter, along with several homes and sports cars such as Ferraris and a Bentley Continental GT Speed. She is suing the firm and her former financial manager for damages that could exceed $100 million.
However, defense lawyers for Anchin pointed out that Cornwell had spent lavishly on numerous homes, cars and travel, including a $40,000 a month apartment at Trump Tower in New York City, $5 million for private jets, and $11 million for private estates in Concord, Mass.
Cornwell claimed that she had needed to move homes frequently because she required quiet in order to be able to focus on her work and to do research on the far-flung locales for her books. When renovation work on her Concord estate took too long, she missed a deadline on one of her books, causing her to forego about $15 million in advances and commissions.
“This was very destabilizing,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “I was just lost. I was adrift. I was extremely stressed.”
Her former accountant, Snapper, took the stand last Monday, and explained why he may have fudged the books, claiming he was only trying to benefit his client.
“I never should have done it,” he said, according to the Boston Globe. “It looks silly, but it was never done to steal. I didn’t steal money.”
Anchin managing partner Frank Schettino declined to comment on the case. “Please be aware this is pending litigation on trial,” he wrote in an email to Accounting Today. “Therefore, it is inappropriate for either party to comment.”