A lawsuit has alleged that Felix Sater, a Russia-born businessman and convicted felon with ties to President Donald Trump, hacked into a Hollywood friend's electronics and accessed confidential information about her celebrity clients.
Stella Bulochnikov Stolper, a former manager for the singer Mariah Carey, sued Sater and his personal assistant in New York on Friday, alleging they created an electronic backdoor to tap into her computers, smart phones and other devices.
The lawsuit said the pair engaged in "willful and malicious" hacking and the "misappropriation of valuable electronically stored property." Stolper is seeking at least $1 million in damages and wants them to turn over any pilfered material.
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Sater, an off-and-on business adviser to Trump for several years, is due to testify before Congress next week about his work trying to get a Trump skyscraper built in Moscow.
Phone messages seeking comment were left with lawyers for Sater and Stolper on Monday. Sater's assistant, Kalsom Kam, denied the allegations.
Stolper and Sater grew up together in Brooklyn and reconnected at a funeral in November 2017, eventually getting so close that she allowed him and Kam, to stay over at her Los Angeles home, according to the lawsuit.
Sater wanted Stolper's help pitching his life story to Hollywood and took advantage of her "delicate emotional state" at the time and their shared history to spend more time with her, the lawsuit said.
By last October, Sater and Kam had worn out their welcome. Stolper kicked them out after growing frustrated and suspicious of their "increasingly lengthy stays" and "increased meddling in her business, professional and personal affairs," the lawsuit said.
She discovered the alleged hacking a few weeks later, according to the lawsuit. Sater and Kam allegedly stole contracts and scripts belonging to Stolper's production company and material from Stolper's personal files, including her pitches to movie studios and television networks, ideas she hadn't marketed yet, text messages, family photos and financial records.
In a statement, Kam said he worked for Sater and Stolper for more than a year, handling things like appointments and emails, and "was completely authorized by Stella to do the work that I was doing."
Stolper said she's spent more than $5,000 dollars on computer security and forensic experts to investigate the scope of the alleged breach, catalog what materials were misappropriated, and secure the devices from further incursions or attacks.
Stolper was Carey's manager for about three years until a nasty split in 2017.
The lawsuit didn't give a reason that Sater and Kam would have hacked Stolper's computers and devices or what they would have done with the material.
Sater, a former Mafia informant who was convicted in a stock fraud scheme, was involved in trying to jump start the Moscow project, which has been the subject of scrutiny as special counsel Robert Mueller's investigates Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty last year to telling Congress that the Moscow venture was dead by January 2016 when, in reality, work on it persisted deep into the presidential campaign. Cohen testified last week that Trump's lawyers reviewed and edited his statement to Congress.
Cohen said Sater also talked with him about having Trump visit Russia during the campaign. Sater was also involved in trying to get the White House to look at a Ukrainian peace proposal that favored Russia. Cohen told a Congressional hearing last week that Sater once had an office on the same floor as Trump in Trump Tower.
In the past, Trump has contended he doesn't know Sater well. In a taped deposition in 2013 he said: "If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn't know what he looked like."