Brazilian model accuses Edmonton Oilers owner of offering money for sex
Deal was 'he would pay me 20 thousand per day and would see me 5-6 times a month,' Greice Santo claims in suit
The defamation lawsuit reads like a Hollywood movie, except the man accused of making an indecent proposal is real-life billionaire and owner of the Edmonton Oilers, Daryl Katz.
In a legal action launched this week in New York, Brazilian model and Jane the Virgin actress Greice Santo accuses Katz of offering her money for sex during a photo shoot for Viva Glam Magazine in Hawaii.
"He would pay me 20 thousand per day and would see me 5-6 times a month," says Santo in a handwritten complaint made to the Hawaii police that is contained in the lawsuit.
She also claims to have received a total of $35,000 in wire transfers from Katz and his associate and "cousin" Michael Gelmon. In an interview, Santo said she gave the money to charity.
Hawaii police looked into Santo's complaint but didn't lay charges.
In that same complaint, Santo says several months later, Gelmon threatened her after learning she had told a music producer about the alleged money-for-sex proposal.
"Daryl's head of security indicated that they will make sure you don't work in Hollywood ever again," Santo said she was told by Gelmon.
Santo said there were other warnings as well: "I was constantly told by Gelmon how powerful Katz was and what would happen if I ever crossed him."
The allegations are contained in a lawsuit filed last Sunday by Santo's husband, R.J. Cipriani, a professional gambler who calls himself Robin Hood 702 and has been profiled in Rolling Stone and other publications for bringing down a drug kingpin.
The lawsuit itself is far from conventional.
"By any standard, Katz is not a handsome man," it reads. "What he lacks in physical presence, he tries to overcompensate with his bankroll."
Cipriani alleges in court documents Katz used a magazine called Viva Glam "to procure beautiful women for his own personal pleasure.
"One such photo shoot in Hawaii, included Plaintiff's wife where Katz assisted by Gelmon inappropriately pursued Plaintiff's wife," reads the document.
"Plaintiff's wife is no stranger to being pursued by rich powerful men and, with the exception of Katz/Gelmon, it was always done with a certain je ne sais quoi," it says.
It alleges Katz's "inappropriate behavior" is detailed in a criminal complaint Santo made in July 2016 and provided as evidence in the lawsuit. Hawaii police investigated but did not lay charges.
Not surprisingly, the lawsuit's description of Cipriani is much more flattering.
The suit describes him as as the son of an Italian American barber who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in cramped quarters above his father's barbershop "generating a strong sense of loyalty and the necessity for honesty."
Katz not defendant in lawsuit
Neither Katz nor Gelmon are defendants in the lawsuit. Instead Cipriani is suing G.F. Bunting+Co, a public relations crisis management firm said to represent Katz.
The lawsuit claims Cipriani pitched a story to the New York Post about wire transfers to Santo from a company run by Gelmon.
It accuses the firm's president, Glenn Bunting, of falsely telling the paper's business editor Richard Wilner that Cipriani was attempting to extort money from Katz, Gelmon or both men and destroying any chance of the NY Post running the story about the wire transfers "and its more nefarious related backstory."
A statement of defence has not been filed and none of the allegations have been proven in court.
Neither Katz nor Bunting responded to requests for comment. But a spokesman with the Oilers Entertainment Group forwarded a statement from Katz's lawyer saying:
"Robert J. Cipriani is a convicted felon who has been menacing Mr. Katz and his family for more than a year. The allegations in the complaint filed against Mr. Bunting and his company, and the assertions made in that document about Mr. Katz, are false, malicious and entirely without merit.
"Moreover, it is plain as day that this so-called complaint was filed solely as bait for the media as part of an ongoing effort by Cipriani to harass, embarrass and possibly extort Mr. Katz, exactly as Cipriani has done with other prominent individuals."
Gelmon told CBC News he is not interested in commenting because "the credibility of (Cipriani) is beyond question."
Court documents show Cipriani pleaded guilty to insurance fraud in 2005.
While the statement of claim is only 10 pages long, it's the 12-page criminal complaint included as an exhibit which lays out the details of the alleged money-for-sex proposal.
In her hand-written complaint, Santo alleges she was flown to Kona, Hawaii, in November 2015 for a photo-shoot with Viva Glam Magazine.
She said that's where she met Katz and Gelmon, who were allegedly business partners in the magazine.
Santo said both men talked about helping her career. But at a meeting at Katz's Four Seasons hotel suite, Katz said he'd rather give her money. "I'm talking about millions," she said she was told.
When she asked what she would have to do for this, she said Katz allegedly replied: "I'm looking for companionship and sex."
In the weeks that followed, Santo said Gelmon apologized repeatedly "saying that Katz was inappropriate and drunk." She said Gelmon requested another meeting at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills in December 2015.
Gelmon told her the meeting with Katz would be about "a major motion picture or TV role by introducing me to the right people and no more sex for money talk," she said.
'This is your fairy Godfather'
"Later they said as a good faith gesture for me to free up my schedule for Katz they wanted to send me money," wrote Santo. "Katz through Gelmon would send me 20 thousand dollars. They asked me for my banking information, (which) I sent this to Gelmon by text."
Santo says she began receiving texts from Katz, including one that read: "This is your fairy Godfather."
She said Gelmon told her "Katz was flying in on his private jet from London just to meet with me and prove he wanted to help my career and apologize for his behavior in Hawaii."
In the complaint, she also says Gelmon told her how special she was to Katz "and how so many super models wanted to be with his cousin Katz" to help with their career. She said she provided texts to show these exchanges.
But in a second meeting in Katz's penthouse suite in December 2015, Santo said the conversation once again veered off into a discussion about Katz wanting "sex for money."
Santo said her reply was: "I'm not a prostitute."
She said Gelmon warned her privately afterwards not to "piss him off." So she sent a text at his urging "saying how very nice and sweet he was and thanking him for his kindness."
Told 'how powerful Katz was'
"Scared of what could happen to me I followed Gelmon's instructions," she wrote.
She said Katz wired her another $15,000. But it was fear that prevented her from showing up at another meeting planned for March 2016 at the Montage Hotel.
She said it stemmed from an incident two months earlier when she sent Katz a "mean text" after he told her she was not invited to a dinner party he was attending with Leonardo Di Caprio.
Santo said when she shared this "crazy story" with music producer David Foster, she believes he informed Gelmon and Katz. In that phone call, she says Gelmon threatened her.
"So listen carefully, I just got off the phone a few minutes ago with the head of Daryl's security," Santo said she was told. "David Foster contacted him and told him that you mentioned that you took some money from Daryl."
Cipriani is asking for a retraction from Bunting about the extortion allegation and a trial by jury, which could award financial damages.