Shapiro sued Schiller
#1
Ramsey book creators sued
Former reporter says book libels him

By Camera staff
October 15, 2002
A former newspaper tabloid writer has filed a lawsuit against a publisher and an author he says libeled and defamed him in the book "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town," a publication about the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation.
Jeffrey Shapiro, 29, of Florida, who wrote about the high-profile homicide for the Globe, filed his case on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, N.M., because the state has a three-year statute of limitations on libel and defamation cases.
The book, written by Lawrence Schiller and published by Harper Collins Publishers Inc. in February 1999 in hardcover and in November 1999 in paperback, was distributed throughout the country.
According to the complaint, Shapiro says one sentence in the book contains a libelous statement that could have been corrected before paperback editions were printed.
"It's one sentence with pretty substantial ramifications," Shapiro's Los Angeles attorney, Neville L. Johnson, said Monday.
That sentence implicates Shapiro in an alleged extortion of former Boulder police Det. Steve Thomas when, in reality, Shapiro warned authorities of the crime, records showed.
In August 1998, the Globe editors told Shapiro of plans to blackmail Thomas into providing details of the investigation, according to the complaint. Shapiro then told Thomas and police Chief Mark Beckner about the tabloid's plan to extort Thomas, the document showed.
Two months later, Shapiro reported the plot to the FBI, the complaint said. Shapiro was fired in February 1999.
The lawsuit alleges that during a conversation with Schiller before the book was published, Schiller read a passage to Shapiro that said, "... Shapiro had a conversation with the FBI about the possibility someone had engaged in extortion with Thomas."
The published passage said "Several months later, the FBI talked to Shapiro about the possibility that he had engaged in extortion with Thomas."
In a subsequent conversation with Schiller, which Shapiro recorded, the author said he would change the sentence before the paperbacks were published. It was not changed, Shapiro's attorneys said.
"He's the man who went to the FBI to say my supervisors want to do something bad," Johnson said. "We've got Schiller admitting that he was incorrect."
Schiller said Monday night he had not seen the lawsuit, and declined to comment.
The suit is one of several that have sprung from the 1996 slaying of the Boulder girl. JonBenet's beaten and garroted body was found the basement of her parent's Boulder home on Dec. 26 of that year. The murder has gone unsolved.
http://www.dailycamera.com/bdc/city_news...66,00.html




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JonBenét book spurs libel suit
By Jim Kirksey
Denver Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 15, 2002 - Former Globe newspaper freelance reporter Jeffrey Shapiro contends that "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town," the book about the murder of JonBenét Ramsey and the subsequent investigation, is not a perfect account.

Shapiro has filed a libel suit against the book's author, Lawrence Schiller, saying the book misrepresents Shapiro's role in an alleged extortion plot by the editors of the Globe against former Boulder detective Steve Thomas in an attempt to get information about the case from Thomas.
Shapiro says in the suit that he warned Thomas of the extortion plot, then told Boulder police and the FBI, even playing tapes of his conversations with the Globe editors where the plot was discussed.
The former reporter contends he explained his role in the matter to Schiller on three occasions, and that role was acknowledged by the author. In the book, however, Schiller wrote that "the FBI talked to Shapiro about the possibility that he had engaged in extortion with Thomas."
The suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New Mexico does not specify damages, but there is a floor of $75,000 at issue to qualify for filing in U.S. District Court.
The suit was filed in New Mexico because the statute of limitations is less restrictive in that state, said Shapiro's attorney, Neville Johnson.
Schiller said he was not aware of the suit. Attempts to reach co-defendant HarperCollins Publishers, which published the book, late Monday afternoon were not successful.

http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413...7E,00.html


 


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EXHIBIT 1
Page 722 "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town" soft-back:
Shapiro said. Thomas thought the reporter was playing
good cop, bad cop – the oldest trick in the book.
“They know about your mother, Shapiro continued.
“We know she committed suicide.”
“My mother…my mother…”Thomas said, staring at
Shapiro.” You’ve got that all wrong. Thomas had been just
seven years old when his mother became suddenly ill and
died.
“I don’t want to see that story run,” Shapiro said. “I’m
just trying to protect you.”
But the way Thomas saw it, Shapiro was trying to buy
him. He told the reporter to leave at once.
three days later, a FedEx package arrived at Thomas’s
home. In it was a letter from Craig Lewis of the Globe, who requested an interview. Enclosed
were pictures of Thomas’s
long-deceased mother and late aunt, who had died of brain
cancer.
That afternoon, Thomas told his lawyer to write
Shapiro and the Globe that any further contact with him
would be met with legal action. Before long, Thomas heard
that the DA’s office was floating a rumor that mental
instability ran in his family.
Several months later, the FBI talked to Shapiro about
the possibility that he had engaged in extortion with Thomas.
Shapiro played them a tape he had recorded during a
conversation with Globe staff, where the topic of how to go about
levereging Detective Steve Thomas had been discussed.
Thomas decided not to press charges against the Globe
or any of its employees and the FBI dropped the investigation
for the time being. To clear his own name, Shapiro
went public with excerpts from more than half a dozen
phone conversations he’s recorded with his editors at the
Globe. It wasn’t long before he was appearing on TV and in such publications as Editor and
Publisher with his views on
tabloid journalism.
Reply
#2
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO
CIV No.
02-1275
JEFFREY SCOTT SHAPIRO
Plaintiff,
v.
LAWRENCE SCHILLER,
HARPER COLLINS PUBLISHERS, INC.
And Does 1-25,
Defendants.

COMPLAINT FOR LIBEL AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
Plaintiff JEFFREY SCOTT SHAPIRO, by and through his undersigned counsel of record, brings this action on information and belief, and hereby alleges as follows:
JURISDICTION and VENUE
1. The parties to this lawsuit are:
A. Plaintiff JEFFREY SCOTT SHAPIRO is a citizen of the State of Florida.
B. Defendant LAWRENCE SCHILLER is a citizen of the State of
California.
C. Defendant HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS, INC. is an entity with its principal place of business in the State of New York.
2. This Court has original jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §1332, in that it is a civil action between citizens of different states in which the matter in controversy exceeds, exclusive of costs and interest, seventy five thousand dollars ($75,OOO). Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1391(a).
PARTIES
3. Plaintiff JEFFREY SCOTT SHAPIRO was, all times relevant herein, a resident of the State of Colorado. Shapiro is a freelance journalist and law student.
4. Defendant LAWRENCE SCHILLER is an individual residing in the State of California. Schiller authored the non-fiction book "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town" which describes events surrounding the murder of JonBenet Ramsey in Boulder, Colorado. Schiller specializes in writing sensational stories about tragic human events.
5. Defendant HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS. INC. is a corporation that has its principal place of business in the State of New York. HCP published "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town."
6. Plaintiff is informed and believes, and thereon alleges, that each of the Defendants herein acted in concert with respect to the creation, writing, editing, and publishing of the defamatory book that is the subject matter of this action. All actions of HCP as alleged in the causes of action stated herein and approved by its lawyers, officers, directors, managing agents, editors.
7, Plaintiff is informed and believes, and thereon alleges, that Defendants caused thousands of copies of the defamatory book that is the subject of this action to be circulated in the State of New Mexico. The people of the State of New Mexico have interest in knowing the truth.
BACKGROUND ALLEGATIONS
8. For nearly two years prior to February 1999, Shapiro worked as an independent contractor/investigative journalist for Globe Communications Corporation which publishes the weekly supermarket tabloid, the Globe.
9. Shapiro was assigned to investigate the JonBenet Ramsey murder in Boulder, Colorado, and to write stories for the Globe. As a result of this assignment Shapiro came to know many of the "players" in the JonBenet Ramsey murder-mystery including former Boulder police detective Steve Thomas.
10. Shortly after former detective Thomas resigned from the Boulder police force, Globe editors obtained numerous personal effects belonging to Thomas and private information regarding his family history. Globe editors wanted to use this information to get Thomas to talk to them about the JonBenet Ramsey investigation.
11. Shapiro became aware, during a meeting with the Globe editors in August 1999, that Globe editors wanted to blackmail Thomas into giving them the information they needed by threatening to publish and expose the personal information from Thomas' past that they had obtained. After the meeting, Globe's editor, Tony Frost, ordered Shapiro to go to Thomas' house that same night on an unrelated matter and to tell Thomas that if Thomas did not give Shapiro the information he was looking for that the Globe would fire him (Shapiro). Tony Frost specifically told Shapiro not to tell Thomas that the Globe had obtained personal information about him which they were going to use to blackmail him.
12. Shapiro went to Thomas' house as ordered that night, but instead of telling him what the Globe editors told Shapiro to say, Shapiro chose to warn Thomas that the Globe was about to blackmail him with personal information from his past. Thomas thanked Shapiro for telling him the Globe editors' plan. The next morning Shapiro went to the Boulder Police Department to inform Police Chief Mark Beckner of the Globe editors' plan to extort Thomas. Three days later, a FedEx package arrived at Thomas' house that contained a letter requesting that Thomas give the Globe an interview about the Ramsey investigation. The package also contained pictures of Thomas' deceased relatives.
13. In October 1998, Shapiro reported the Globe and its editors to the FBI. In February 1999, Shapiro's job was terminated because the Globe had discovered that Shapiro reported the Globe's extortion tactics and other illegal means of obtaining information to the FBI. Unbeknownst to Globe editors, Shapiro had legally (under Colorado law) audio-taped the meeting where the editors discussed their plan to blackmail Thomas.
14. As a result of the Jefferson County District Attorney's investigation into the extortion of Thomas, Globe editor Craig Lewis was indicted in Colorado for felony extortion and commercial bribery.
FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION FOR LIBEL
(Against Schiller, HCP and Does 1-25)
15. Plaintiff incorporates by reference and realleges paragraphs 1 through 14 as though fully set forth herein.
16. Since 1997, Schiller had been interviewing Shapiro for the specific purpose of portraying him as a major character in a book he was writing entitled "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town" regarding the JonBenet Ramsey murder.
17. In January 1999, Schiller contacted Shapiro to confirm the accuracy of the Globe editors' extortion plot. Schiller had several conversations with Shapiro regarding, among other things, how the Globe editors attempted to blackmail Thomas and how Shapiro went to the FBI to expose the Globe's tactics.
18. Before the book was published in mid-January 1999, Schiller told Shapiro that he had two sources who confirmed that Shapiro went to the FBI to expose the Globe's tactics. Schiller further confirmed to Shapiro that Shapiro played a tape to the FBI which proved that the Globe editors were conspiring to extort information from Thomas. During this conversation. Schiller specifically told Shapiro that no one had ever said anything about Shapiro's involvement or role in the extortion scheme. This conversation was legally taped by Shapiro.
19. In late January 1999, also before the book was published, Schiller talked to Shapiro and told him that he wanted to read Shapiro a passage from the book. Schiller read the following passage: "In October, Shapiro had a conversation with the FBI about the possibility someone had engaged in extortion with Thomas." After reading this passage, Schiller made particular mention to Shapiro that be wanted to leave it general so that he did not have to point fingers at anyone in particular. Schiller further said that even though the passage was left vague, no one should get the impression that Shapiro was involved. "I don't say they came after you," Schiller told Shapiro. Schiller asked Shapiro if the passage sounded correct and Shapiro confirmed it. At this time, Schiller told Shapiro that the book was done. This conversation was legally taped by Shapiro.
20. In late February 1999, the hardcover book "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town" was published by HCP. Schiller is the author of the book.
21. Plaintiff is only suing herein for the following libelous statement that is contained in the subsequent soft-cover edition of the book which was published by HCP in November, 1999.
22. On page 722 of the soft-cover book, the libelous statement reads; "Several months later, the FBI talked to Shapiro about the possibility that he had engaged in extortion with Thomas." (Attached hereto as Exhibit 1 is page 722, which is fully incorporated herein by reference.) This statement is false. Instead, the truth is that the Shapiro voluntarily went to the FBI to talk to the FBI about the possibility that the Globe editors, not Shapiro had engaged in extortion.
23. The following statement is libelous on its face and defamatory per se. The foregoing statement exposes Shapiro to contempt, ridicule and obloquy.
24. The libelous statement is reasonably susceptible of a defamatory meaning in that it implicates Shapiro in the extortion perpetrated by the Globe's editors and gives the false Impression that Shapiro had possibly engaged in extortion, when instead Shapiro had warned Thomas of the extortion plan. The manner in which the libelous statement is written gives the false impression that the FBI called Shapiro in to talk about his possible involvement, when, in fact, it was Shapiro who voluntarily went to the FBI and offered them the information. Further, the libelous statement alone and read in context does not dispel the false impression that Shapiro had participated or aided and abetted in the extortion plot.
25. The libelous statement was published with negligence and even Constitutional and actual malice with knowledge that it was false or with a reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of what was printed including, but not limited to, the following ways:
A. In early March 1999, after the hard-cover version of the book was published, Shapiro met with Schiller so that Shapiro could play Schiller a tape of the Globe editors conspiring to blackmail Thomas. After hearing the tape, Schiller acknowledged that Shapiro had no involvement in such and further that he would change the way the passage reads for the soft-cover book, which was done to come out later that year. This conversation was legally taped by Shapiro. The soft-cover version was published in November 1999 and no change was made to the libelous statement.
B. In early 2O00, after both the hard-cover and the soft-cover versions of the book were published, Schiller called Shapiro and asked for his participation in the television movie Schiller was producing based on the book. Shapiro told Schiller that the libelous statement in the soft-cover book had never been corrected and was still false. To that, Schiller replied, "Yeah. I understand that." Schiller then told Shapiro, "We corrected that in a later edition of the book." This conversation was legally taped by Shapiro. Notwithstanding Schiller's representation. HCP has not corrected passage in any edition and still reads the same as it did in the soft-cover edition published in November, 1999.
26. The soft-cover book that is the subject matter of this action was published in the County of Bernalillo, New Mexico and throughout the country. The libelous statement seen and read by persons who reside in the County of Bernalillo, New Mexico.
27. As a proximate result of the above-mentioned conduct, Shapiro suffered damages, all to his general damage in an amount to be determined at trial, but is an excess of the jurisdiction of this Court. Shapiro suffered emotional distress, including, but not limited to, loss of reputation, humiliation, powerlessness, frustration, and anger, which is especially acute now that he has entered law school to embark on a profession which he will be held to the highest ethical standards. Shapiro has suffered discredit in the eyes of the public for something that did not happen.
28. In addition, defendants' conduct as described herein, including that on at least three separate occasions Shapiro advised Schiller of the true facts and Schiller acknowledged such was done with a conscious disregard of the rights of Shapiro, and was done with the intent to vex him, injure his reputation and/or annoy him by falsely implying that he was somehow involved in the extortion scheme when in fact he went to the FBI to expose the Globe's extortion scheme. Defendants' acts constitute oppression, fraud, and/or malice, entitling Shapiro to an award of punitive damages in an amount appropriate to punish or set an example of the defendants in an amount to be determined at trial.
29. As part of the effort to restore his reputation, Shapiro demands that in any further editions of the book, whether hardback or paperback, correct the libelous statement.
SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION FOR FALSE LIGHT
(Against Schiller, HCP and Does 1-25)
3O. Plaintiff incorporates by reference and realleges paragraphs 1 through 29 as though fully set forth herein.
31. Since 1997, Schiller had been interviewing Shapiro for the specific purpose of portraying him as a major character in a book he was writing entitled "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town" regarding the JonBenet Ramsey murder.
32. In January 1999, Schiller contacted Shapiro to confirm the accuracy of the Globe editors' extortion plot. Schiller had several conversations with Shapiro regarding, among other things, how the Globe editors attempted to blackmail Thomas and how Shapiro went to the FBI to expose the Globe's tactics.
33. Before the book was published in mid-January 1999, Schiller told Shapiro that he had two sources who confirmed that Shapiro went to the FBI to expose the Globe's tactics. Schiller further confirmed to Shapiro that Shapiro played a tape to the FBI which proved that the Globe editors were conspiring to extort information from Thomas. During this conversation, Schiller specifically told Shapiro that no one had ever said anything about Shapiro's involvement or role in the extortion scheme. This conversation was legally taped by Shapiro.
34. In late January 1999, also before the book was published, Schiller talked to Shapiro and told him that he wanted to read Shapiro a passage from the book. Schiller read the following passage: "In October, Shapiro had a conversation with the FBI about the possibility someone had engaged in extortion with Thomas." After reading this passage, Schiller made particular mention to Shapiro that he wanted to leave it general so that he did not have to point fingers at anyone in particular. Schiller further said that even though the passage was left vague, no one should get the impression that Shapiro was involved. "I don't say they came after you," Schiller told Shapiro. Schiller asked Shapiro if the passage sounded correct and Shapiro confirmed it. At this time, Schiller told Shapiro that the book was done. This conversation was legally taped by Shapiro.
35. In late February 1999, the hardcover book "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town" was published by HCP. Schiller is the author of the book.
36. Plaintiff is only suing herein for the following false statement that is contained in the subsequent soft-cover edition of the book which was published by HCP in November, 1999.
37. On page 722 of the soft-cover book, the statement that places Plaintiff in a false light reads: "Several months later, the FBI talked to Shapiro about the possibility that he had engaged in extortion with Thomas." (Attached hereto as Exhibit 1 is page 722 which is fully incorporated herein by reference.) Instead, the FBI had talked to Shapiro about the possibility that the Globe editor, not Shapiro, had engaged in extortion.
38 The statement is false because the FBI did not talk to Shapiro about the possibility that he had engaged in extortion with Thomas, but instead, that Shapiro had warned Thomas of the extortion plan. The statement further gives the false impression that Shapiro had possibly engaged in extortion. The statement falsely implicates Shapiro in the extortion perpetrated by the Globe's editors and gives the false impression that Shapiro had possibly engaged in extortion, when instead, Shapiro had warned Thomas of the extortion plan. The manner in which the statement is written gives the false impression that the FBI called Shapiro in to talk about his possible involvement, when, in fact, it was Shapiro who voluntarily went to the FBI and offered them the information. Further, the statement alone and read in context does not dispel the false light cast on Shapiro that he had participated or aided and abetted in the extortion plot.
39 The false statement is highly offensive to a reasonable person. Defendants knew that Shapiro would feel seriously offended and aggrieved by what was printed considering that he went to the FBI to expose the extortion and did not participate in it.
40. The statement was published with negligence and even Constitutional and actual malice with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of what was printed including, but not limited to, the following ways:
A. In early March 1999, after the hard-cover version of the book was published, Shapiro met with Schiller so that Shapiro could play Schiller a tape of the Globe editors conspiring to blackmail Thomas. After hearing the tape, Schiller acknowledged that Shapiro had no involvement in such and further that he would change the way the passage reads for the soft-cover book, which was due to come out later that year. This conversation was legally taped by Shapiro. The soft-cover version was published in November 1999 and no change was made to the libelous statement.
B. In early 2000, after both the hard-cover and the soft-cover versions of the book were published, Schiller called Shapiro and asked for his participation in the television movie Schiller was producing based on the book. Shapiro told Schiller that the sentence in the soft-cover book had never been corrected and was still false. To that Schiller replied, "Yeah. I understand that." Schiller then told Shapiro "We corrected that in a later edition of the book." This conversation was legally taped by Shapiro. Notwithstanding Schiller's representation, HCP has not corrected passage in any edition and still reads the same as it did in the soft-cover edition edition in November, 1999.
41. The soft-cover book that is the subject matter of this action was published in the County of Bernalillo, New Mexico and throughout the country. The statement was seen and read by persons who reside in the County of Bernalillo, New Mexico.
42. As a proximate result of the above-mentioned conduct, Shapiro suffered damages, all to his general damage in an amount to be determined at trial, but is in excess of the jurisdiction of this Court. Shapiro suffered emotional distress, including, but not limited to, humiliation, powerlessness, frustration, and anger, which is especially acute now that he has entered law school to embark on a profession which he will be held to the highest ethical standards. Shapiro has been falsely portrayed in the public as someone who possibly engaged in extortion as opposed to the true facts which were that Shapiro voluntarily went to the FBI to expose the Globe editors’ extortion as opposed to the FBI calling Shapiro in to discuss his possible participation.
43. In addition, defendants' conduct as described herein, including that on at least three separate occasions Shapiro advised Schiller of the true facts and Schiller acknowledged such, was done with a conscious disregard of the rights of Shapiro, and was done with the intent to vex him, injure his reputation and/or annoy him by falsely imp1ying that he was somehow involved in the extortion scheme when in fact he went to the FBI to expose the Globe's extortion scheme. Defendants' acts constitute oppression, fraud, and/or malice, entitling Shapiro to an award of punative damages in an amount appropriate to punish or set an example of the defendants in an amount to be determined at trial.
44. As part of the effort to restore his reputation, Shapiro demands that in any further editions of the book, whether hardback or paperback, correct the libelous statements.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHERERFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment and relief against defendants Schiller and HCP on his first and second claims as follows:
1. For general damages:
2. For punative damages;
3. For correction in future publications of the book; and
4. Such other and further relief as this Court may deem just or appropriate.
PLAINTIFF HEREBY DEMANDS A JURY TRIAL
CARPENTER & CHAVEZ, LTD.
-EDWARD L. CHAVEZ
Albuquerque, NM 87102-1724
JOHNSON & RISHWAIN LLP
NEVILLE L. JOHNSON
BRIAN A. RISHWAIN
Los Angeles, California 90025
RODNEY A. SMOLLA
University of Richmond
T.C. Williams School of Law
Richmond VA 23173
ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF
JEFFREY SCOTT SHAPIRO
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#3
Wow, I had no idea!!

PMPT didnt paint a nice picture of him, lol.
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