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Manson Family Feud

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Rumor has long persisted in Fort Lauderdale -- where Putesky owns a nice home and can often be spotted in his preferred pastime of doing nothing -- that he was made a millionaire when the suit was settled out of court in 1998.

"I've heard $15, $20, $25 million," Putesky says, amazed, "and I honestly don't know where these numbers come from. I would never say that."

The mediation took place over three days in early October 1998. During the discoveries-and-depositions, Putesky and his attorneys, Richard Wolfe and Alan Geffin, sat on one side, while Warner, Bier, and a team of six managers, accountants, and attorneys faced them.

"It was a helluva good time," says Wolfe, who still practices law in South Florida. He remembers Warner as a fierce opponent during a nine-hour deposition. "I thought he was one of the sharpest, best witnesses I've ever had the pleasure of deposing. He was smarter than his accountant, smarter than his lawyer, and smarter than his business manager."

Smart or not, Manson was vulnerable. "Even though we were literally outnumbered," Putesky says, "I felt they were showing how insecure they were. On the second day, Warner comes in and he has on the same clothes he had on the day before. I turned to Alan Geffin and said, 'We got him. '"

"What do you mean?" Geffin replied.

"He's still wearing the same clothes he had on yesterday. That means he's been out all night and probably hasn't slept. Obviously, he's worried, probably drinking and doing coke." In addition, the office's air conditioning had broken down. Two hours slowly passed, leaving everyone hot and uncomfortable. "[Manson] starting sweating, it was literally like a bright light was on him," Wolfe says. "It was great."

Putesky also played what he hoped was his trump card. His lawyers were hard-core, and they "were looking at anything, not just legally pertinent stuff," Putesky says. During Warner's deposition, Putesky's lawyers reminded him of an event that had taken place the year before.

"This was about an incident on a tour bus," Putesky tells. "Brian was looking for a cassette, and I hid it from him in the cushions of a couch. And he gets furious right away, looking for it all over the place, going to the back lounge. I took it out and placed it where he'd find it. He comes back, immediately looks at me. I guess I was smiling or something.

"Meanwhile, our tour manager has a gun. And Brian actually grabs his gun and points it at me." Putesky looks flustered at the recollection. "What's the first rule any backwoods idiot knows about gun safety?" he barks.

Warner and his attorneys weren't prepared for that tactic, and instead of denying it, Warner's expression seemed to say, "Oh shit, I forgot all about that!"

"It was psychological warfare," Putesky says. "We were using the deposition to wear him down."

Putesky settled for what he calls "an evil number." The number of the beast?

He laughs. Judging from songwriting credits alone (Putesky co-authored most of Portrait of an American Family, plus five tracks on Antichrist Superstar), the guitarist's lump sum was in the high six figures. "We cannot disclose the figure," Wolfe says adamantly. "There is a confidentiality agreement."

"It worked its way down from, like, a million five," Putesky says with a smirky smile.

Is he happy with the settlement? "Yeah, sure. Plus, I still get publishing money. But it's dwindling."

Stewart settled out of court the same year. He can't disclose the sum he lumped either. "I'm not allowed to discuss the specifics of the case. But I know [Putesky] didn't make much more than I made, because the accountants sent Scott's numbers to my lawyers by accident. You'd think we'd be millionaires off of the records we've sold, but no."

In 1999, Putesky's girlfriend won tickets to a huge rock fest in Australia. The guitarist ended up in the audience watching his old band perform. As reported in Alternative Press, Manson found out and became incensed. "Call every hotel in Sydney," he demanded. "Ask for a big boil-faced monkey -- with a lot of my money." Later, he told a reporter, "He took me for a couple of bucks in the lawsuit. He got some ambulance chaser who said, 'These guys are millionaires! Let's sue the shit out of them!'"

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton