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NYC Jurors Decide: Was Scheme to Portray Fiction as Non-Fiction a Scam?

Posted Jun 22, 2007 6:13 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Was a literary hoax a fraud? That is the question a federal jury in New York City began deciding today, in a case brought by a movie production company to recover money it paid writer Laura Albert for rights to her alleged non-fiction book "Sarah."

The problem is, Sarah was written by Albert's alter ego J.T. LeRoy, who doesn't actually exist--although Albert's friends have assumed LeRoy's persona at book signings, and she has even sought psychiatric counseling in the guise of LeRoy, reports AP.

During his closing argument yesterday, Gregory Curtner, the lawyer representing Antidote International Films Inc., called Albert's ploy "despicable," "cynical" and "evil," and said her scheme crossed the line and became a scam when she signed contracts and got copyrights under the phony name. The film company reportedly spent more than $100,000 on a film based on the book, which claimed to be the true tale of a truck-stop prostitute.

But Albert's counsel contended Antidote got what it paid for--the rights to her book. No one ever claimed the book was anything other than fiction, Eric Weinstein told the jury yesterday. "This was not a contract for the J.T. LeRoy brand."

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