Britney Spears‘ father Jamie Spears could be investigated by the FBI after it was claimed that he hired a security company to monitor his daughter’s communications – including what went on in her bedroom – without her knowledge or consent.
On Monday Deadline reported that the FBI are looking into whether the law was broken, with Jamie Spears insisting his daughter knew of the surveillance arrangements.
Under Californian law, both parties must consent to a conversation being recorded.
They have triggered a furious response from Britney’s lawyers who say the allegations are further evidence as to why her conservatorship should be urgently ended.
‘Mr. Spears has crossed unfathomable lines,’ said the singer’s lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, in a court filing on Monday in advance of a hearing on the conservatorship scheduled for Wednesday.
‘While they are not evidence, the allegations warrant serious investigation, certainly by Ms. Spears as, among other things, California is a ‘two-party’ consent state.’
His furious remarks were a reference to a New York Times documentary released on Hulu Friday detailing the surveillance claims.
Alex Vlasov, a former employee of Black Box Security, told The New York Times in a new documentary that the 39-year-old Spears’s phone calls and messages were secretly recorded as part of her 13-year conservatorship, overseen by her father.
Britney Spears, pictured in July 2019, had her calls, texts, photos, notes and browsing history monitored, according to a new New York Times documentary
Jamie Spears (left) was accused by security agent Alex Vlasov (right) of keeping his daughter in ‘a prison’ and watching her every move
Rosengart further told the paper that the allegations made by Vlasov warranted urgent inquiry.
‘Placing a listening device in Britney’s bedroom would be particularly inexcusable and disgraceful, and corroborates so much of her compelling, poignant testimony.
‘These actions must be fully and aggressively investigated.’
He said in Monday’s court documents that he intends to depose the 69-year-old, and that if he plead the Fifth Amendment it would be damning.
It is unclear whether the court which managed the conservatorship had approved the recordings.
Britney Spears has not commented on the specific allegations that she was secretly recorded, but in an Instagram post on Monday said that the documentary, Controlling Britney Spears, had many factual errors.
‘I watched a little bit of the last documentary and I hate to inform you but a lot of what you heard is not true!!!’ she said.
Yet Vlasov, who worked for the security company for eight years until he resigned in April over the secret recordings, insisted that she was subjected to invasive surveillance. He said he quit when the singer told the court that she had not consented to the control, and he felt it was morally unacceptable to be part of it.
‘It really reminded me of somebody that was in prison,’ said Vlasov, 30.
‘And security was put in a position to be the prison guards essentially.’
He said that he was told she was being monitored for her own safety, and that she wanted to be protected.
Yet he grew increasingly alarmed.
Vlasov told the paper that the iCloud account on her phone was mirrored on an iPad and later on an iPod.
The communications – text messages, notes, FaceTime calls, browser history and photographs – would be taken from the iPad and iPod, encrypted, and then sent to Jamie Spears and Robin Greenhill, an employee of Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group, the former business manager for the singer’s estate.
‘Her own phone and her own private conversations were used so often to control her,’ Vlasov said.
He said that conversations with her mother, boyfriends and court-appointed lawyers were all recorded, and provided screenshots of them to The Times.
Mathew Rosengart, Britney Spears’s lawyer, said the allegations of monitoring her communications were deeply disturbing
Britney Spears is pictured in June 2015 with her father, Jamie
Vlasov said that he was given a USB drive and told to delete the contents urgently but, growing suspicious, made a copy and discovered 180 hours of conversations recorded from her own bedroom.
‘I had them tell me what was on it,’ Vlasov said.
‘They seemed very nervous and said that it was extremely sensitive, that nobody can ever know about this and that’s why I need to delete everything on it, so there’s no record of it. That raised so many red flags with me and I did not want to be complicit in whatever they were involved in, so I kept a copy, because I don’t want to delete evidence.’
When Britney was taken to a mental health facility in 2019, she was legally free to leave at any time, yet Vlasov said that she repeatedly said she felt she was there involuntarily.
She tried to get a new lawyer to represent her, but warned a prospective lawyer that her security team would be suspicious if he showed up, and block him. She suggested he claim to be a plumber, but he refused to go along with her plan.
The lawyer confirmed the account to The Times.
Furthermore, the singer’s boyfriends were the subject of intense scrutiny, and were followed in case evidence emerged of their ‘misleading’ her.
Spears is pictured in April 2018 with her fiance Sam Asghari, an Iranian personal trainer and actor
‘There was an obsession with the men in Britney’s life,’ Vlasov said.
Her boyfriends were required to sign strict nondisclosure agreements.
Vlasov said that Spears’ fiance, Sam Asghari, was made to sign an agreement in 2020 which banned him from making social media posts about her.
Spears’s ex-husband Kevin Federline, who she was married to from October 2004 to July 2007, and with whom she has two teenage sons, said through his lawyer that he was horrified by the allegations made by Vlasov.
Mark Vincent Kaplan said that Federline would never consent to the conversations between Sean Preston, 16, and Jayden James, 15, and their mother being recorded.
The boys are minors and therefore could not themselves give permission to be recorded.
Kevin Federline, Spears’s ex-husband, said that the allegations were ‘pretty outrageous’
What is a conservatorship?
A conservatorship is a legal concept whereby a probate court appoints a person to manage an incapacitated person or minor’s financial and personal affairs.
It is often a relative. The terminology and details vary state-by-state, but the general principals are all similar.
The conservator’s duties include overseeing finances, medical care and living arrangements.
In Britney’s case, the conservators also oversee visitation arrangements with her two teenage sons, who are under the full custody of her ex-husband, Kevin Federline. It is most frequently used for someone who is severely mentally incapacitated, or suffering from dementia.
Yet in the 13 years of Britney’s conservatorship, she has released four albums – two of them going platinum; appeared as a judge on both The X Factor and American Idol; and had a four-year residency in Las Vegas that reportedly grossed close to $138 million.
The specific details of Britney’s case have not been revealed. Unless a judge says otherwise, they still retain rights to make certain decisions, according to the California handbook.
They can control salaries they earn, spend an allowance, retain legal representation, vote in elections, get married, draft their own wills, make medical decisions for themselves and ask a judge to terminate conservatorships or replace their guardians.
‘All conservatees have the right to be treated with understanding and respect and to have their wishes considered. They have all basic human rights, as well, and the right to be well cared for by you,’ the California handbook says.
Britney says that she has not had these rights. It is unclear whether this is a violation of her case, or as agreed.
There are two types of conservators: a conservator of the person, who looks after meals, housekeeping, transport, housing and recreation, and a conservator of the estate who manages finances and protects assets. Sometimes one person can play both roles.
The conservator of the estate must file periodic activities reports by the first year after their appointment and every two years following, until the relationship is terminated.
The estate managers have to disclose asset values, gains and losses, and show receipts for all expenditures of conservatorship funds. They are also prohibited from borrowing money from the conservatee or lending out their cash. Many countries have similar systems.
In the U.K. it is called a deputyship. In Britain, however, the court will appoint an independent conservator, rather than a family member.
‘I think that would be pretty outrageous and Kevin would be upset about that,’ Kaplan told Page Six.
He said that both he and Federline were unaware of the allegations of eavesdropping until the documentary was aired on Friday.
‘It would be extremely inappropriate for a parent, let alone a grandparent, to clandestinely procure recordings between a parent and their children.
‘Regardless of whether or not the grandfather, in this case, Jamie is a conservator or not.’
A lawyer for Jamie Spears said: ‘All of his actions were well within the parameters of the authority conferred upon him by the court.
‘His actions were done with the knowledge and consent of Britney, her court-appointed attorney, and/or the court.
‘Jamie’s record as conservator — and the court’s approval of his actions — speak for themselves.’
A lawyer for the former management firm denied they had been involved in the alleged scheme.
‘These allegations are not true.
‘Ms. Greenhill was only involved in Ms. Spears’ security to the extent Ms. Spears requested her involvement, as well as Tri Star’s role of issuing the payments to the security company.’
Edan Yemini, the chief executive and founder of Black Box Security, insisted that they had done nothing wrong.
In a statement, his lawyer said, ‘Mr. Yemini and Black Box have always conducted themselves within professional, ethical and legal bounds, and they are particularly proud of their work in keeping Ms. Spears safe for many years.’
Yet Rosengart, Spears’s lawyer, said that the allegations strengthened the argument for dissolving the conservatorship entirely.
Jamie Spears last month said himself, in court filings, that he thought the arrangement had run its course and should be ended at Wednesday’s hearing.
Judge Brenda Penny, presiding over the Los Angeles Superior Court proceedings, will decide on Wednesday the next steps for the controversial arrangement.
Rosengart is seeking separate hearings to look into how Spears’ multimillion-dollar fortune was spent.
On Tuesday Netflix will launch its Britney Vs Spears documentary looking into the cash.
Lawyers for the star insisted on Monday that the conservatorship should be immediately ended, and Jamie Spears’s role concluded.
‘As a result of these deeply-disturbing allegations, Mr. Spears will inevitably be focused over the next several days and weeks on defending his own interests not his daughter’s (yet again),’ it adds.
‘And regardless of the outcome of the allegations, what cannot be genuinely disputed is how deeply upsetting they are to Ms. Spears and if nothing else, they magnify the need to suspend Mr. Spears immediately.’
Spears is pictured in April 2018 at the GLAAD Media Awards in Beverly Hills
TIMELINE OF BRITNEY’S COMPLEX CONSERVATORSHIP AND HOW IT BEGAN
Britney with her father, brother and mother in 2006. Her parents separated
2002: Jamie Spears and Lynne Spears divorce.
Britney breaks up with Justin Timberlake around the same time.
2004: Britney marries Kevin Federline.
2007: Britney, struggling through a custody battle and split with Kevin, shaves her head and attacks a paparazzo’s car.
2008: Jamie Spears files for conservatorship of Britney, claiming she is not legally well enough to make her own decisions.
Britney in 2008 for a custody hearing as part of her split with Kevin Federline. Jamie Spears in court in 2008 getting the conservatorship
2009-2019: QUIET CONSERVATORSHIP YEARS
The conservatorship – which had been temporary – is extended every year.
In court papers, Jamie’s attorneys describe how she is making more money
JANUARY 2019: THE ARRANGEMENT STARTS TO CRUMBLE
Britney in 2019, in the grips of the conservatorship, in Las Vegas at her residency
Britney announces an ‘indefinite’ work hiatus and cancels her lucrative Las Vegas residency.
Jamie files paperwork asking for the conservatorship to be extended beyond California, to apply in Hawaii, Louisiana and Florida as well
He steps down as her primary conservator after allegations he abused one of her sons but is still listed as one of those in charge
EARLY 2020: Britney, Jamie and Jamie-Lynne are in Louisiana together for two weeks.
The #FreeBritney movement is picking up.
His attorneys claim everyone is happy together and enjoying spending time together in quarantine.
NOVEMBER 2020: Britney’s attorneys claim in papers that she’s afraid of her father and they ask for Bessemer Trust to be put in charge.
Her fans start speculating over her cryptic Instagram posts and videos that she wants a way out.
DECEMBER 2020: The conservatorship is extended until September 2021.
FEBRUARY 5, 2021: Framing Britney Spears debuts on Hulu.
The conservatorship that Britney was put under is ordinarily used in situations where older, perhaps senile people, can no longer look after their own affairs.
Fans are concerned for her well-being and have demanded that she be released from the control of her father, Jamie
It gives control over to an appointed conservator for the best interest of the recipient but in most cases, the recipient is not healthy enough to make their own money, unlike Britney who makes millions. Under the rules of the probate conservatorship, Jamie now has equal control over her estate to a third party and an attorney, Andrew Wallet.
Wallet derives a salary of $426,000 a year from Britney’s estate.
He, Jamie and the third party who was brought on recently can make deals on her behalf and restrict her visitors.
JUNE 23, 2021 – BRITNEY SPEAKS OUT IN COURT
Britney and her boyfriend Sam Asghari
In emotional testimony, Britney told the court that she had suffered psychologically for years as a result of the conservatorship which she said was so restrictive, she wasn’t allowed to remove her IUD birth control.
JUNE 30, 2021 – JUDGE DENIES BRITNEY’S REQUEST TO REMOVE JAMIE
Judge Brenda Penny, responding to Britney’s November 2020 request, refuses to remove Jamie from the agreement.
She doesn’t say why but she does invite her attorney to file paperwork to end it, which he doesn’t.
JULY 1, 2021 – BESSEMER TRUST RESIGNS AFTER BEING PUT IN CHARGE WITH JAMIE
A day after the judge’s ruling, Bessemer Trust, which had been brought on, resigned, saying they were never aware that Britney wanted to end the conservatorship.
In a court filing, the company’s attorneys said: ‘We heard her and respect her wishes.’
JULY 5, 2021 – BRITNEY’S LONG-TIME MANAGER RESIGNS
Larry Rudolph wrote a letter to Jamie and the conservatorship to say he was no longer needed since Britney wanted to retire.
He said he hadn’t spoken to her for two years but had been told by others that she wanted to step down.
JULY 6, 2021 – BRITNEY’S ATTORNEY STEPS DOWN
Sam Ingham, the attorney appointed to represent Britney in 2008, steps down after failing to file paperwork to terminate the conservatorship, despite her pleas.
JULY 14, 2021 -BRITNEY WINS RIGHT TO CHOOSE HER OWN LAWYER
A Los Angeles court granted Britney the right to choose a lawyer to help her end her conservatorship, after she told a judge the current situation was ‘allowing my dad to ruin my life’. She has chosen former federal prosecutor Mathew Rosengart as her new attorney.
JULY 23, 2021 – BRITNEY FLASHES HER BOOBS ON INSTAGRAM
Singer’s semi-nude post was hailed by fans including Paris Hilton as evidence of her determination to become a ‘free woman’.
JULY 27, 2021 – LYNNE SPEARS AGREES TO TESTIFY IN SUPPORT OF HER DAUGHTER
The singer’s mother’s attack on Jamie Spears gives her a powerful new ally in her bid to be freed.
AUGUST 12, 2021 – JAMIE SPEARS AGREES TO STEP DOWN AS CONSERVATOR
Jamie’s lawyers filed court documents saying that he will step down, and provide an orderly transition to another conservator.
He said that he was doing so because he felt a public argument with his daughter was not in her best interests.
SEPTEMBER 7, 2021 – JAMIE SPEARS FILES TO END THE CONSERVATORSHIP
Jamie states that his daughter ‘is entitled to have this Court now seriously consider whether this conservatorship is no longer required.’
The filing went on to say that Britney Spears’ circumstances have changed ‘to such an extent that grounds for establishment of a conservatorship may no longer exist.’
SEPTEMBER 29, 2021 – BRITNEY DUE BACK IN COURT