Pierce O’Donnell gained showbiz prominence as the crusading Los Angeles litigator who represented newspaper columnist Art Buchwald against Paramount over the movie Coming To America and sought to expose the Hollywood studio practice of “creative accounting” on net profit statements. And he very ably represented me when Disney and News Corp tried to unfairly punish this journalist for reporting the truth about Big Media. I consider Pierce both a loyal friend and great attorney. So with a heavy heart I convey that O’Donnell pleaded guilty today to two misdemeanor charges of making illegal campaign contributions to John Edwards’ presidential campaign in March 2003. In a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, O’Donnell agreed to serve six months in federal prison. A sentencing hearing has been set for November 7th. O’Donnell specifically admitted that he reimbursed some employees of his law firm and at least one relative to make $2,000 contributions to the campaign. O’Donnell also has agreed to pay a $20,000 fine and perform 200 hours of community service. The attorney won international notoriety when he took Buchwald’s case on contingency. The writer claimed that Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America was taken from a treatment he sold to Paramount. The 1990 lawsuit and O’Donnell’s book about it Fatal Subtraction focused on why the studio net profits clause unfairly adds up to zero.
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