LOS ANGELES — A man who until recently was managing the affairs of Marvel's Stan Lee pleaded not guilty Monday to calling 911 to report that authorities conducting a welfare check on Lee were burglars who may be out to harm him.
Attorney Alex Kessel entered the plea on behalf of Keya Morgan, 42, in a Los Angeles court to two misdemeanor counts of reporting a false emergency.
Kessel also addressed a police investigation of whether the 95-year-old Lee has been abused by Morgan.
"Mr. Morgan always had Mr. Lee's best interest at heart and did everything he could to help Mr. Lee and not put him in danger and not jeopardize any type of financial situation for Mr. Lee," Kessel said outside court.
Morgan, who says he is Lee's longtime friend, surged to the forefront of Lee's affairs as a personal adviser and manager in a power struggle over the Marvel Comics mastermind that began when Lee's wife died last year.
Lee's former attorney Tom Lallas, who is working with Los Angeles police detectives, sought and received a restraining order against Morgan on June 13.
Lallas stood up in court Monday and attempted to serve the order to Kessel, saying it had yet to be served to Morgan, who is in New York. Kessel refused to accept the order and the judge said the civil matter was not her concern.
The restraining order is set to expire on Friday, when a hearing is scheduled. Kessel said he and Morgan intend eventually to fight the order, but the Friday hearing is likely to be delayed and the order automatically extended.
"Mr. Lee never, never asked for a restraining order himself," Kessel said.
Lallas did not speak to reporters after the hearing.
Prosecutors in court Monday asked the judge to issue a separate protective order keeping Morgan away from Lee.
Kessel argued that "Mr. Lee is not the victim," and that "Mr. Lee has indicated he has full and complete trust in Mr. Morgan."
The judge said she would consider the order when the case returns to court for a hearing July 26. The judge will also consider whether the arrest of Morgan violated his probation on a previous conviction of making criminal threats.
In the false reporting case, two detectives and a social worker in the elder abuse investigation were interviewing Lee on May 30 when the arriving Morgan was stopped by security and called 911, according to court documents.
Kessel said there was no violation of the law, noting that Morgan had reason to believe the people talking to Lee might not be police. He declined to comment further, saying he had just received the 911 recordings.