(Reuters) – A Los Angeles judge cleared the former business manager of the late Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee of grand theft charges on Tuesday, ending a four-year criminal case that emerged in the final year of Lee’s life.
Superior Court Judge George Lomeli dismissed three felony counts against Keya Morgan, 41, after a jury had voted 11-1 in favor of acquittal. The judge dropped the charges “in the interests of justice,” Variety reported from the courthouse.
Prosecutors alleged Morgan had stolen $222,480 in cash raised by the sale of Lee memorabilia in 2018 in the months before Lee died at age 95. Additional charges including elder abuse had been dropped before the trial.
“My client’s exoneration today came after four years of baseless accusations by the L.A. District Attorney,” defense lawyer Alex Kessel said in a statement to Reuters.
Evidence at trial showed the money had gone to a member of Lee’s family, Kessel said.
Representatives of the District Attorney’s Office could not reached after hours for comment.
Lee’s career took off in the 1960s as co-creator of “Spider-Man,” “Iron Man,” “The Hulk” and dozens of other Marvel superheroes. His personal fortune soared in the past 20 years with the explosion of Hollywood movie versions of his comic book characters, with Lee making cameo appearances in many of the blockbusters.