Third Eye Blind ‘Rat in the Books’

Things got testy during testimony Wednesday in the contract dispute between members of alternative rock band, Third Eye Blind, when former band manager Eric Godtland testified that he suspected in 2008 that singer Stephan Jenkins was taking more than his share of money.

“It looked like there was a complete rat in the books” Godtland said.  “Some of the expenses were completely shocking,” he said.

This brought a suggestion by Jenkins’ lawyer that Godtland had made a quid pro quo-style deal with former band member Tony Fredianelli to provide helpful testimony in this case, to repay Fredianelli for his help in Godtland’s earlier suit against the band.

“I never made a deal with Fredianelli about anything,” Godtland insisted.

But defense attorney Mitchell Greenberg pressed, “He would be the star witness in your case and you would be the star witness in his case.”

“There was no star witness because there was no trial,” Godtland snapped.

Fredianelli, the band’s original 1993 lead guitarist, has sued lead singer Jenkins and drummer Bradley Hargreaves, along with the band’s former lawyer Thomas I. Mandelbaum, claiming they cheated him of $8 million in royalties and profits from songs and touring.  He claims to be co-author of many of the 1990s band’s early hits, including “Semi-Charmed Life” and “Motorcycle Drive By” and “How’s It Going to Be,” from the band’s first album, which sold six million copies. All the song’s reached the Top 10 of U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

By midday in this final day of testimony, Jenkins took the stand to testify in his own defense. He accused Fredianelli of running up nearly $10,000 in personal expenses on a band credit card in late 2009, just before he left the band.

“This is an example of running up credit card expenses and not paying them back,” Jenkins said. When asked about how band decisions were made, Jenkins testified, “I had final decision-making.  But I worked from common sense.  I’m not a genius.  I’m not Jay-Z. [A wildly successful rapper with a clothing line, sports agency and record label]  I work from consensus,” he said.

During his testimony, Jenkins, who was dressed more like a lawyer than a rocker, sporting a grey suit, white shirt and black tie, did not look at Fredianelli, sitting just 30 feet away.

Jenkins said he complained about Godtand’s pay before the former manager was fired in 2007.  Godtland got 15 percent of the band’s gross income.  “He was making more than anyone in the band.  I complained.  I didn’t think it was fair and I was doing a lot of the work.”

Godtland offered Jenkins 2 percent share for his work, Jenkins said.  After Godtland left, Jenkins took over Godtland’s role and was paid a smaller share, at 15 percent of the net income of the band.

Godtland had testified that he grew concerned in 2008 when he saw large legal fees going to Mandelbaum, who was not involved in the litigation over Godtland’s dismissal.  “The fact that so much money was flowing to him seemed very suspicious to me,” he said.  He also accused Jenkins of paying for a $135,000 studio recording ‘board’ out of touring money and charging the band rent for Jenkins’ own studio.  It was a claim Jenkins denied during his testimony.

The trial is expected to close Friday and go to the eight-member jury.

Case:  Fredianelli v. Jenkins, No. 11-3232EMC




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