Jayme Gordon, the 51-year-old cartoonist who lied about creating the concept for Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda, was convicted yesterday by a federal jury in Boston for wire fraud and perjury. He will be sentenced on March 30, 2017; the charges carry a maximum of 25 years in prison.
There are countless cases where amateur creators sue a movie studio for stealing their idea, but rarely does the federal government launch a criminal investigation. In this instance, Gordon not only accused Dreamworks of stealing his idea, but he concocted an elaborate scheme that involved creating fake concept art which he claimed dated back the early 1990s. His case fell apart, however, after Dreamworks’ lawyers discovered that the artwork Gordon claimed was from 1992 was actually copied out of a Lion King coloring book from 1996.
Jonathan Zavin, one of Dreamworks’ lead lawyers at Loeb & Loeb, testified during the U.S. government’s trial about the unprecedented fraud that Gordon attempted to commit in his lawsuit against Dreamworks. “I’ve never had a case that involved this kind of spoliation of evidence, this kind of destruction of evidence,” Zavin said on direct examination. “This was absolutely unique in my experience.”