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Thursday, May 22, 2003

Beware of Disgruntled Employees with Writing Ambitions

by: Ki Kim

Edward C. Johnson III, the chairman of Fidelity Investments, has accused a former employee of attempted extortion and libel with respect to a book entitled: Surviving Ned Johnson: How Fidelity CEO and Chairman Ned Johnson Traded His Faithful Friend for a Few Dollars, according to a recent WSJ article.

Richard Larson, an ex Fidelity real-estate project manager who performed similar services for Johnson outside of the company, is the author of the book, which may be sold over the Internet, according to the article. Last year, Larson lost a lawsuit against Johnson over payment he claims was due to him for a country-home construction project in Maine.

In December, Larson sent a copy of his book to Johnson, along with a letter from his lawyer offering Johnson the book rights for $3 million, according to the published report, which adds that an attorney for Johnson subsequently informed the ex-Fidelity employee that his letter represented a violation of federal extortion statutes, and that the book contained libels of Johnson.

The WSJ article notes that legal experts are divided over whether Larson's move could amount to extortion. 

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