Man sues Oprah Winfrey for $180M over arrest
Keifer Bonvillain, a Louisiana man who allegedly recorded telephone conversations with an employee of Oprah Winfrey's production company to write a book about them, is suing Oprah for $180 million, blaming her and an attorney for making false statements that led to his arrest.
"There was substantial damage done to my name and reputation on a world level," Bonvillain wrote in the suit. "The extent of my damages is vast."
The FBI said Bonvillain claimed to have offers from publishers and tabloids ranging from $500,000 to $3 million for the recorded calls. The feds arrested him in December 2006 when another company associate agreed to pay him $1.5 million, wired him $3,000 and arranged to meet him, the AP reports. Bonvillain claims in the lawsuit that he did everything he could to avoid doing anything illegal.
Federal officials dismissed the charges when Bonvillain agreed to perform 50 hours of community service, undergo drug testing and pay $3,000 in restitution.
Chip Babcock, a lawyer for Winfrey's Harpo Productions, denied the allegations.
"And we know that this whole episode started when the plaintiff wiretapped a Harpo employee in California," he said. "We advised (Bonvillain) that we believe that wiretapping was illegal, and this case will give us an opportunity to determine whether we were right about that."
[Photo: Getty Images]