A man hired to help manage finances for the construction of Cher’s $25 million Malibu mansion has sued the pop star, saying she forced him out of his job after he exposed alleged improprieties in the building process.
During opening statements on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, an attorney for Cher characterized plaintiff Salvador Sampino as “emotionally ill” and said the former health club worker was “never once retaliated against” during his 14 months on the project.
Attorney William Bloch, an attorney for Sampino, told a jury that during the next few weeks they would hear evidence that his client was forced out of his job in May 2000 after raising concerns about the use of undocumented workers and unlicensed contractors on the house, which is now reportedly up for sale.
Cher’s attorney Jerry Mandel countered that subcontractors had been hired out of a day labor pool and given 1099 tax forms. He said he would prove that Sampino was professionally incompetent, had “mixed personality disorder” and quit because he feared he would soon be fired.
Cher, in a wine-colored top and tight black slacks, sat quietly in the courtroom, showing little emotion. During the mansion’s construction, she was touring Europe to promote an album, Mandel said.