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Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson Moonlighting in Movie Business

By James Fanelli | February 24, 2014 6:58am
 Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson has invested in movie director Jerry LaMothe's film company. 
Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson and Filmmaker Jerry LaMothe
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NEW YORK CITY — He’s a leading man in criminal court — but he also dabbles in making movies.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson is a big financial backer of an indie director whose most recent flick was a takedown of the city’s justice system, DNAinfo New York has learned.

The top prosecutor has invested between $44,000 and $60,000 in Tru Life Entertainment Group, a company owned and operated by Brooklyn-raised moviemaker Jerry LaMothe, according to a financial disclosure filing obtained by DNAinfo New York.

It's unclear when Thompson made the investments, but they occurred before he was elected to office in November.

LaMothe, the son of Haitian-born parents, is a self-taught auteur who has directed five independent films, according to movie database IMDB.com.

His most recent work is "The Tombs,” a 29-minute drama that follows a wrongfully arrested black man’s three-day odyssey from being jailed until he sees a judge. The film's title is the nickname for the Manhattan Detention Complex, where prisoners are kept before being arraigned in the borough.

In the flick, the main character has to decide whether to fight to prove his innocence — and remain in jail — or take his public defender’s advice to plead guilty.

LaMothe, 41, told website Urban Daily in 2012 that his own wrongful arrest inspired the movie.

“I was locked up,” he told the site. “It was a real thought-provoking experience in the sense that that’s what I went through. I saw the red tape and politics that goes with central booking and the jail system. So I wanted to tell the story of a Brooklyn man’s three-day journey through The Tombs. It’s kind of semi-autobiographical.”

LaMothe, a former East Flatbush resident who now lives in Bogota, N.J., did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

In his two-decade career as a director, LaMothe has worked with some of Hollywood’s top talents, including “Hunger Games” actor Jeffrey Wright and “Fruitvale Station” Michael B. Jordan for his 2007 feature “Blackout.”

But cast members in his 2000 debut film, "Amour Infinity," accused him of stiffing them on pay.

Federal court records show the Screen Actors Guild sued LaMothe in 2011, claiming he owed additional money and residuals to actors. A judge later ordered LaMothe to pay SAG nearly $56,000.

Thompson disclosed his investment in Tru Life in an Aug. 1 amendment to an earlier financial disclosure filing with the city’s Conflict of Interest Board. Candidates for city office are required to make the disclosures.

The newbie district attorney did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

He took office in January after beating longtime incumbent Charles Hynes, running on a campaign of reform and challenging his opponent’s stance on the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy.

Before becoming the Brooklyn DA, Thompson ran a private law practice. He represented Nafissatou Diallo, the Midtown hotel maid who accused International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn of rape in 2011. Manhattan prosecutors ultimately dropped charges against Strauss-Kahn, but Thompson helped Diallo win a settlement in a lawsuit. 

In 2012 he made more than $500,000 from his practice, according to the financial disclosure report. He also indicated in the report that he expected to make more than $500,000 from his law firm in 2013.

The disclosure form also shows Thompson raked in as much as $44,000 in rent in 2012. That year he owned a brownstone worth more than $500,000 and 50 percent of an office on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan that was valued at more than $500,000, according to the report.

Thompson also held mortgages of more than $750,000 in 2012, according to the disclosure form.