Lou Pearlman’s death in federal prison left lawsuits brought by NSYNC and other boy bands of which he was the manager unsolved and left many of his victims defaulted.
Pearlman was convicted of fraud for defrauding millions of dollars from thousands of investors, many of whom were retirees living in Florida, according to court documents in his case. He promoted boy bands like NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Take-5, O-Town, and others, promoting them with investors’ money and keeping most of the profits for himself in a $ 300 million Ponzi scheme. All but one of the boy bands he promoted sued Pearlman. Much of his debts were not paid when he died and the lawsuits were never resolved, leaving the victims uncollected.
Pearlman’s story originally aired in a two-hour 20/20 special on Friday, December 13, 2019 on the episode “The Hitman: From Pop to Prison.” The episode aired again on Friday, July 3, 2020.
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Members of Lou Pearlman’s boy bands expressed mixed emotions when the mogul died
I hope I have found some peace. God bless and RIP, Lou Pearlman.
– Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) August 21, 2016
Former NSYNC members Lance Bass and Chris Kirpatrick told ABC 20/20 that they experienced a series of conflicting emotions when Lou Pearlman died. Pearlman, the manager of NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys, and other boy bands, was a music industry mogul. He was known for bringing Bass and other members of the boy band to fame, even taking most of their earnings and misleading investors. Most of his investors were Florida retirees.
Pearlman also faced allegations of sexual misconduct. Those allegations of sexual misconduct were first detailed in a 2007 Vanity Fair article. Pearlman had denied the allegations.
Bass told 20/20 that he respected Pearlman for her career, despite the fraud that funded her.
“There are so many life lessons that you learn from the mistakes of others, from your mistakes,” Bass said. “It helped start my career. He financed it. I don’t know where I would be without him. So you have to give him that credit. “
Many of the band members wrote social media posts after learning of Pearlman’s death, reflecting their conflicting emotions.
“He may not have been a man of integrity, but I wouldn’t be doing what I love today without his influence,” Bass wrote in a tweet the day after Pearlman’s death.
“I hope you’ve found some peace,” Justin Timberlake wrote on Twitter on August 21, 2016. “God bless you and RIP, Lou Pearlman.”
“Mixed emotions right now, but RIP Lou Pearlman,” Kirkpatrick wrote on Twitter on the day of Pearlman’s death.
NSYNC’s lawsuit filed against Pearlman was not resolved after she died in federal prison at age 62.
Lou Pearlman’s death at age 62 in federal prison left the lawsuits filed against him unsolved. NSYNC and other boy bands the mogul ran, including the Backstreet Boys and O-Town, filed lawsuits against Pearlman, saying he pocketed much of their earnings and left them with small payments. Bass told 20/20 that Pearlman’s death in 2016 meant that none of the victims in the $ 300 million Ponzi scheme received the scammed money.
“I was so confused about exactly how to feel,” Bass said. “I was thinking, ‘How could you die now without resolution?”
Kirkpatrick expressed similar mixed emotions in 20/20:
“The moment you started crying, you started laughing,” Kirkpatrick said. “And the moment you started laughing, you started to get angry, and the moment I was angry, I started to feel bad about everything that happened. It was probably the most confusing moment I have ever had. I know a lot of the other guys are bitter. I understand it because, as I said, there are many emotions. But I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for him. “
Pearlman told NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys that he would buy them houses and that they could quit their jobs, according to USA Today. But their salaries did not even reach the minimum wage. Bass recalled receiving his first paycheck after two years of touring and promotions.
“I open the envelope, look at the check, and think, ‘Oh my God, my heart sank,'” Bass said. “I couldn’t believe the number I was looking at. The check was for $ 10,000. It’s not to sound ungrateful, but when you compare it to the number of hours we’ve spent working with this group over the years, it didn’t even make it to the minimum wage. Absolutely.”
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