Canadian billionaire and Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz has been accused of luring Brazilian model and actress Greice Santo into hotel rooms on multiple occasions and offering her money for sex, according to documents filed in a recent lawsuit.
According to Variety, the allegations first surfaced when Santo’s husband, R.J. Cipriani, filed a defamation suit against a crisis consulting firm — G.F. Bunting & Co, which has also represented Baylor — that represented Katz alleging that they “tarnished his reputation in order kill a story about Katz in the New York Post.” Variety adds:
Katz’s attorneys have accused Cipriani and Santo of attempting to extort $3 million from Katz as the price for keeping quiet. Katz does not deny meeting with Santo, but has alleged that some elements of her story have been misconstrued. In addition to airing sordid details from the entertainment world, the lawsuit also spotlights the role of crisis consulting firms, which are often hired to clean up damaging stories for wealthy clients. Cipriani portrays himself as a longtime reliable source for the New York Post. In the suit, he accuses Bunting of damaging his relationship with a New York Post editor by accusing Cipriani of extortion, which Cipriani denies. The Post ultimately did not run a story on Katz.
“A media consultant can’t go around accusing people of crimes just to kill a story,” Cipriani’s attorney, Peter Gleason, told Variety, adding that publications have become increasingly gunshy in the wake of the Hulk Hogan lawsuit, which bankrupted Gawker. “Everybody is running scared,” he said.
Santo’s allegations date back to 2015, when she was in Hawaii for a photoshoot. She alleges that she met Katz through his cousin, Canadian executive Michael Gelmon, and that Katz invited her to his suite at the Four Seasons and promised to help advance her career. Then she says this happened:
“Katz said he could put me in a big role that would change my life and then switched the conversation and said he rather give me money,” Santo wrote [in a statement].
According to Santo, Katz said, “I’m talking about millions… This would help your family and help you so you won’t struggle.”
Santo said she asked what she would have to do in exchange, and was told, “I’m looking for companionship and sex.”
Santo nonetheless stayed in touch with Gelmon, who she says was apologetic about the initial encounter, but continued to try to get her to meet with his cousin again. Santo tried to balance the line between using the relationship to further her career, without it crossing the lines into physical connection. She says she exchanged texts with Katz — who wired her a total $35,000 on two transfers — where he referred to himself as her “Fairy Godfather,” and that he again propositioned her for sex.
Santo says she told Katz that she is “not a prostitute,” and left the Beverly Hills hotel where they were meeting. Still, afterwards, she texted him: “Hey. Wish we could’ve had dinner together. And spend more time. You are a very sweet and kind man. Thanks so much for your kindness.”
The Variety story continues on to note the background of Santo’s husband, R.J. Cipriani, who pled guilty to insurance fraud in 2006, has been blacklisted from casinos, and was an FBI informant in taking down a gambling ring that led to 22 people, including a former USC football player, being charged.
Katz’s attorney alleges that Cipriani tried to extort the NHL owner for $3 million to keep quiet. Santo claims she was offered roles in three films in exchange for silence, but said no.