It's a story that could be ripped from the headlines of the National Enquirer.
A family feud. A multimillion dollar estate. Dueling allegations of fraud. Accusations of kidnapping, theft, and stalking. Tales of lavish spending that include a private jet chartered to transport 18 dogs.
And in the latest chapter, ongoing in a Florida courtroom today, a wealthy mother so fed up with allegedly being asked for handouts that she has filed a restraining order against her son.
The mother is Florida socialite and philanthropist Lois Pope, 79. The son is Paul Pope, 45, author of "The Deeds of My Fathers" and "Confessions of a Rich Kid from Hell." They are the beneficiaries of a multi-million dollar estate, received following the death of Generoso Pope, founder of the National Enquirer, and the sale of the paper in 1989.
Lois Pope initially received $200 million in the sale, and Paul Pope got $20 million.
In court documents filed in Palm Beach, Fla., last week, Lois Pope accuses her son of demanding more of her money. When she would not turn the money over, she says, he began stalking her, threatening her with violence and spreading rumors about her to gossip columnists and tabloid journalists.
Paul Pope "maliciously and repeatedly harassed his 79-year-old mother… Paul Pope's cruel behavior is causing Lois Pope to suffer substantial emotional distress and to genuinely fear for her safety," Mrs. Pope claims in a restraining order petition.
Paul Pope, his mother contends, "maintain[s] an excessive and extravagant lifestyle, but has never had meaningful employment."
Over the past several years, Paul Pope has repeatedly asked his mother for money, according to court documents. At times she has acquiesced, giving him $8 million and buying him a yacht, according to court papers. But for decades the two have been locked in a series of lawsuits and countersuits, culminating in this week's restraining order hearing.
Most recently, on March 14, Paul Pope demanded $875,000 from his mother on top of $4 million he had asked for in January, she says in her complaint.
When she didn't agree to the payment, she contends that her son contacted a gossip columnist to spread rumors about her.
Lois Pope contends that her son lied about her decision to take out kidnapping insurance on his three children. She accuses him of "suggesting that Lois Pope was planning to kidnap his child."
She calls the allegation an "outrageous baseless accusation," adding "the fact is that Paul Pope asked Lois Pope to provide kidnap insurance for him and his children."
Calls to Lois Pope's lawyer Gregor Schwinhammer and to Paul Pope's lawyer Louis Mrachek were not immediately returned. Paul Pope also did not respond to calls.
However, Paul Pope maintains a website and has released statements through a public relations service.
In a recent statement, the son announced he had filed a countersuit, also in Palm Beach, against his mother. That suit contends that Lois "promised to make him financially secure by providing him with a lifetime income of $1 million per year," but ultimately reneged.
His website, wheresthemoneylois.blogspot.com, chronicles what he says are examples of his mother's excesses and accuses her of stealing from charities, to which she donates.
Paul Pope says his mother throws lavish parties that cost up to $1 million and owns two private jets, so that she can travel in one and her 18 dogs in another.
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