Questlove and Black Thought have been sued for allegedly defrauding their former bandmate of millions of dollars.
According to the Philly Voice, Stephanie Hubbard, wife of former Roots bassist Leonard Hubbard, and his estate are filing a lawsuit against the Roots members and other parties for allegedly mishandling business dealings and violating RICO laws. In turn, the lawsuit claims it has resulted in Leonard Hubbard allegedly losing millions of dollars since 2013.
Hubbard departed from the group in 2007 due to blood cancer, leading to his passing in 2021.
Among the defendants mentioned in the lawsuit, included are Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Roots manager Shawn Gee, Roots employee Munir Nuriddin, Live Nation Entertainment, The Roots on Tour, and other companies involved in the band’s business dealings.
As per the lawsuit, Leonard Hubbard is entitled to 17% ownership stake of Grand Negaz Inc., which is the company the band members used to purchase their trademarks and fund business ventures. Furthermore, he was said to own a 25% stake in the band’s recording and publishing company. He also received a 33% stake in the band’s touring company.
A number of business dealings were conducted by Questlove, Black Thought, and Shawn Gee, according to the lawsuit. They allegedly opened new accounts to deposit money from three companies by “falsely purporting to represent all stakeholders” starting in 2013.
The suit also claims Questlove, Black Thought and Gee participated in “forgery, wire fraud, bank fraud, mail fraud, and criminal copyright infringement.” This supposedly led to millions of dollars stolen from Hubbard’s compensation as a stakeholder.
The trio is said to have seized control of the band’s finances and business entities, which includes all of Leonard Hubbard’s share value. They then transferred most of Grand Negaz Inc.’s funds to newly formed business entity Legendelphia, allegedly without the former bassist’s knowledge. In addition, the band members are accused of shutting down Grand Negaz Inc.’s businesses without notice to other shareholders.
Plus, the lawsuit claims Gee covertly deactivated Hubbard’s personal royalty account with Universal Music Publishing Group in 2014. Then Black Thought and Questlove allegedly wrote a “fraudulent” letter from Legendelphia to Universal Music Publishing Group in 2013 stating all publishing royalties were to be moved from Grand Negaz to Legendelphia, a new entity where Hubbard had no stake.
The lawsuit is looking for a resolution that will include the return of property, funds, and benefits belonging to Leonard Hubbard and the estate. In addition, the estate hopes the court will investigate the defendants’ records involving Hubbard and his estate. This will enable it to assess business transactions and how the trademark was applied.
The lawsuit also states the estate is looking for the Roots’ trademark to be suspended until financial transparency is achieved.
“I would hope that these guys would have enough respect and compassion for their former band member… to make sure that he receives compensation for what may have not been given to him in the past, and so that his widow can live a reasonable life,” said Luke Lucas, an attorney at Lucas Law Group representing Hubbard’s estate, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.