Jun 27, 2018

March 1972: Lenny Hart Sentenced


San Rafael, Calif. (UPI) -  The former manager of the Grateful Dead, a rock music group, has been ordered to pay $55,000 to the group after he pleaded no contest of embezzlement of funds.
Leonard B. Hart, 51, pleaded no contest yesterday to two of four counts of embezzlement before Marin County Municipal Judge Peter Allen.

(from the Camden Courier-Post (NJ), 7 January 1972)

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The former manager of the Grateful Dead, now an ordained minister, today was ordered to jail for six months for embezzling thousands of dollars from the rock group.
Before sentencing Leonard B. Hart, Judge E. Warren McGuire of Marin Superior Court heard the former manager described as a "completely rehabilitated man."
"The lord has touched Mr. Hart," his attorney, Robert McCreadie, told the judge.
Hart, a youthful looking 52-year-old with neatly clipped graying hair, had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzlement stemming from the theft of up to $70,000 from the Marin rock group.
According to a probation report, Hart took the money by opening accounts in a Terra Linda bank under such names as "Sunshine Co." He then made out checks to the fictitious companies using rock group funds and later withdrew the money himself.
Hart, married and divorced five times, became the manager of the Grateful Dead after one of his seven children joined the group.
"When I joined the Grateful Dead, I entered a new world entirely foreign to any previous experience - a lot of money floating around - everyone ripping off each other - I just succumbed to the temptation to take my share," Hart told a probation officer.
He said he left the group because the 'Dead' started to "get deeper and deeper into drugs and they were getting arrested...I was getting more seriously into religion..."
Hart embezzled the money between 1969 and 1970 when he left the rock group and went to San Diego where he studied religion and became an ordained minister in the Assembly of God church.
He was arrested in San Diego last summer on a warrant charging the embezzlement.
Since returning to Marin, Hart has lived in a "religious commune" in Novato and has done volunteer work in the Mill Valley School district's music program.
Last month he was given a paid part-time position doing the same work.
"Leonard Hart is either a consummate actor, a real con man, or he has changed his ways," the Rev. William M. Perdue, pastor of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tiburon, told the judge today.
Perdue said that his church governing board had voted unanimously to allow Hart to use the church facilities for Bible classes and services for the "unchurched" of the community.
He asked that Hart not be sent to jail.
Probation officer Jesse W. Johnson, however, said in his report which recommended six months in jail, that he thought Hart had gone into religion "probably for an escape mechanism."
He also verbally chastized Hart for rationalizing his own crime because of "alleged illegal activities of the Grateful Dead."
It was also revealed in court that Hart had been convicted in Los Angeles several years ago of a crime involving real estate dealings and earlier in New York of abandoning his children.
Judge McGuire, although refusing to send Hart to jail for a year as requested by Deputy Dist. Atty. J. Michal Anthony, said he was sending him for six months partially as a "deterrent" to others.
Even though Hart has repaid $55,000 to the rock group, the judge said he thought he ought to be punished.
He stayed execution of the jail term for three weeks so that a work furlough program can be worked out for Hart to continue his church and school work.

(from the San Rafael Independent-Journal, 3 March 1972)

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Rev. Reuben J. Sequiera, minister of the Assembly of God Church in San Rafael, said yesterday that Leonard B. Hart, ordered jailed last month for embezzling money from the Grateful Dead rock group, is not an ordained minister of that church.
Reverend Sequiera said a check with church officials contradicted the claims in court of Hart's attorney, Robert McCreadie, that his client was a minister in the Assembly of God church.

(from the San Rafael Independent-Journal, 20 April 1972)

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Funeral for Leonard B. (Lenny) Hart, former Grateful Dead manager, will be at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Chapel of the Hills in San Anselmo.
Hart, 55, died Sunday in a local hospital after a long illness.
Hart, married and divorced five times, became the manager of the Grateful Dead in the 1960s after one of his seven children joined the group.
He left the Marin-based rock group in 1970.
In 1970, he went to San Diego, where he studied religion and became an ordained minister in the Assembly of God church.
After he returned to Marin, he worked as a part-time instructor in the Mill Valley School District's music program.
Last semester he taught a class in the education department at Dominican College in San Rafael. His home was at 10 Bayview Drive, Kentfield.
Hart was born and reared in New York City. He served with the Marine Corps during World War II and, after the way, worked in various capacities in the music business.
Contributions have been asked to the American Cancer Society.
Burial will be in Mount Tamalpais Cemetery.

(from the San Rafael Independent-Journal, 4 February 1975) 

Another correction was run in the February 6 issue:

Leonard B. Hart, onetime Grateful Dead rock group manager, was not an ordained minister of the Assembly of God church, according to Rev. Reuben J. Sequiera, pastor of the Assembly of God in San Rafael.
Hart, who died Sunday, was identified as a minister in the Independent-Journal's obituary Tuesday. Sequiera said he checked with the national headquarters of the Assemblies of God and learned the office has no record of Hart ever being ordained with the Church.

For Hart's 1971 arrest, see:

For other context, see also:

1 comment:

  1. Hart's account of the dark, treacherous world of the Grateful Dead is classic. But it appears his conning ways continued right up into the courtroom...
    Note how the minor details of embezzlement and jail time are left out of his obituary - even though the local paper got much of its information on Hart from the article on his sentencing! Newspapers elsewhere in the country, though, didn't fail to mention it when reporting his death.