A new lawsuit filed by one of Orioles owner Peter Angelos’ sons not only makes explosive legal allegations, but tells deeply personal stories about a guarded family that typically shies away from the public gaze.
Louis F. Angelos, 52, alleges in the suit filed this week in Baltimore County Circuit Court that his brother, John P. Angelos, 54, sought — against his father’s wishes — to wrest control and ownership of the family fortune, including the Major League Baseball team.
In making his allegations, Louis Angelos recounts anecdotes — for example, about stormy encounters and a yearslong rift between John Angelos and his father — that unleash a cloudburst of family drama.
Here are a few such scenes, with the caveat that they come from Louis Angelos’ lawsuit, and John Angelos — who did not return text messages from The Baltimore Sun — has not offered his version of the events. Nor, for that matter, has their mother, Georgia Angelos, also named as a defendant in the suit, nor Peter Angelos himself. Their attorney couldn’t be reached Friday for an interview.
The 92-year-old patriarch has been in deteriorating health for some five years, and the lawsuit stems from his sons fighting over control of the Orioles and the rest of the family fortune made by Peter Angelos as an attorney representing workers with asbestos-related health claims.
Former outfielder thrown out
Figuring into the family drama is Brady Anderson, the one-time Orioles centerfielder who became the team’s vice president of baseball operations in 2013. The lawsuit says he was among the Peter Angelos loyalists who John Angelos wanted out of the picture as he brought in “yes-men completely beholden to him.”
In March 2019, John Angelos cut Anderson’s salary in half, and later that year ordered the team’s general manager, Mike Elias to fire him, according to the suit. It said that triggered a shouting match between the Angelos brothers, with Louis Angelos defending Anderson, who was one of their father’s favorite employees, and John Angelos telling him, “you better be careful, you better start thinking about your inheritance.” To which Louis responded, “You’re insane.”
The 2019 season was Anderson’s last with the Os.
The sons come out of the shadows
While Peter Angelos was known nationally as the team’s owner and a prominent class-action attorney, his sons kept lower profiles.
But in 2015, John Angelos sat in his parked car late one night, typing out 21 tweets about unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in city police custody.
He explained later that he wanted to address the roots of the unrest — how America had “shipped middle-class and working-class jobs away from Baltimore”— although he seemed abashed by the amount of attention he drew.
According to the lawsuit, John was estranged from his father at the time, the result of a fight they had in 2009. That began with a disagreement over where the Orioles should base their spring training. Peter Angelos did not like John Angelos’ suggestion that the team consider sites in Arizona instead of Florida, the suit said. The father wanted the site to be more accessible to the team’s fans.
John “then stormed out of the meeting to the astonishment of those present,” the suit said. “In the aftermath, he walked away from the Orioles completely. While he continued to have involvement in MASN, he would not return to the Orioles until 2017, on the eve of Mr. Angelos’ sudden illness.”
John Angelos oversaw the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, or MASN, the club’s regional sports network.
Her two sons
There were fraught dynamics, as well, between Georgia Angelos and her sons, according to the lawsuit.
At one point, she is characterized as being afraid of John’s anger, and at another she is said to have “ceased communicating with Lou and her lawyers have instructed Lou not to communicate with his mother.”
Louis Angelos’ lawsuit depicts his brother as manipulating, misleading and intimidating their mother to gain more power over the family fortune. In one instance, when Louis Angelos asks her why she puts up with “John’s abuse. She allegedly replied, ‘He’ll go ballistic,’” holding her cell phone far from her ear to demonstrate what she feared would happen.
A musical journey from Nashville to Baltimore
Weaving through this Baltimore saga is a Nashville connection. John Angelos is listed as living there, and his wife, Margaret Valentine, is a Nashville songwriter who owns a music management company, Pound It Out Loud, there.
Enter Chris Jones, a North Carolina-based attorney who had represented Peter Angelos for more than a decade.
“However,” according to the lawsuit, “Mr. Angelos had grown dissatisfied with Jones’ representation and had ended the relationship.”
The family brought Jones back to help advise them on a trust for the assets of Peter Angelos but eventually, the suit goes on to claim, “his allegiance shifted to John exclusively.” Louis Angelos’ lawsuit says John Angelos needed Jones’ “utter loyalty” to consolidate his power.
”John knew how to acquire that,” the suit says. It goes on to describe how Valentine took Jones’ daughter, an aspiring singer whose stage name is Carter Faith, under her wing. In 2018, the then-17-year-old sang the national anthem at Camden Yards, and John Angelos arranged for a subsequent performance as well, according to the lawsuit.
”The college student has had far more exposure as an artist through John and Margaret’s efforts than she could have ever achieved purely on her own talents,” the lawsuit states. In any event, Nashville has taken notice of Carter Faith.
Jones, meanwhile, convinced Louis Angelos to agree to an amendment to the trust in 2018 that ultimately gave John Angelos increased control with his mother’s consent, according to the suit. Jones convinced Louis Angelos that was necessary to meet Major League Baseball requirements, the suit said.
The law firm at issue
Beginning in 2019, John Angelos tried to “dismantle or dissolve” his father’s law offices, alleges Louis Angelos, who manages the firm.
“Given that Mr. Angelos wanted to be remembered as an effective lawyer first and foremost, and saw his role in the Orioles as ‘strictly secondary,’ John’s attacks on the law firm were a startling manifestation of his antipathy towards his father’s legacy as a lawyer,” the suit says.
It adds that John Angelos had written in October 2019 of the firm’s “unsustainability” and tried unsuccessfully to get Louis Angelos to agree to help dissolve it or have it “spun off to others.”
The law firm represented thousands of workers in their claims of being poisoned by asbestos in the workplace. With a strategy of consolidating cases for settlement, it won more than a billion dollars’ worth of settlements in the early 1990s. But in more recent rulings, the courts have sharply limited consolidation as an option and given defendants, such as manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos, as well as contractors that used it, a chance to have judges or juries weigh each case on its merits.