“My only other job was borrowing from people,” he said. “What mattered was survival.”
Beagle has been married three times, but he has had the same best friend since he was five years old, a painter named Phil Sigunick. One of his first books, “I See By My Outfit,” was about a cross country motor scooter trip the two friends took in the 1960s. Beagle recalled that over the years, Sigunick liked to say, the things “you’ll do for a buck and a half always amazes me.” (But with a salty curse word thrown in.)
When Beagle met Cochran in 2001, he was in the middle of a divorce and mired in debt. The two men began working together, and eventually, Cochran started managing Beagle’s finances, paying Beagle’s bills and rationing money to him as “though it were a parent administering an allowance for a child,” court documents say.
Cochran, who is also a writer, created a company called Avicenna Development Corporation to house both his intellectual property and Beagle’s. The two men would split ownership 50-50, but, according to court documents, it was structured in such a way that Cochran controlled the business. Beagle said in court that he never even knew about some of the money that was earned on the basis of his creations, including a $100,000 payment over a rights dispute involving “The Last Unicorn.”
“I trusted Connor,” Beagle said. “Which was a mistake.”
In 2015, Beagle sued Cochran in California Superior — a difficult trial during which two of Beagle’s children testified against him, he said. At the end of his daughter’s testimony, Beagle said, he looked down and realized that his lawyer, Kathleen Hunt, had been holding his hand.
Cochran was found liable for financial elder abuse, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. He was also found liable of defamation for telling Beagle’s friends, family members and business associates that the writer had dementia.
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