Johnny Depp’s former bodyguards are taking the actor to court.
Two men are suing the Oscar nominee for unpaid wages and forcing them to work in dangerous conditions, which they say included exposure to “illegal substances” and loaded weapons. They also claim they were made to work as de-facto babysitters for Depp’s minor child and were also “forced to protect [Depp] from himself.”
Eugene Arreola, a retired police detective, and Miguel Sanchez first started protecting Depp, 54, in 2013 when they were employed by a local personal security corporation, according to a complaint they filed Tuesday in Los Angeles.
In 2016, the duo say they were hired as part of Depp’s personal in-house security team. Around that time, they “began to notice a stark change in Depp and the atmosphere on his Hollywood Hills compound,” according to the complaint.
“Depp began making sudden and drastic changes to his staff and management team, causing a significant financial crunch for everyone surrounding Depp, except for Depp himself,” the complaint continues, noting that Arreola and Sanchez accepted the in-house detail because they “were loyal to Depp and his family and understanding of the financial hurricane Depp was in.”
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The actor is currently embroiled in a $25 million lawsuit with his former business managers, whom he claims mismanaged the $650 million he’s made in the last two decades to the point of depletion. His former managers claim the actor’s allegedly extravagant spending is to blame for his financial woes.
Once Arreola and Sanchez started working for Depp directly, they say they noticed their paychecks were missing “overtime and rest pay.” They also claim that from 2016 to 2018, they did not receive overtime pay or “meal and rest breaks as mandated by law” and were “misclassified as independent contractors when they were clearly hired as employees.”
Furthermore, the duo “found themselves in situations that required more than what a bodyguard would be expected to do.” For instance, Arreola and Sanchez claim they were “constantly used as drivers, driving back and forth at Depp’s or his family’s beckoning.”
They also say they were “asked repeatedly to drive vehicles that contained illegal substances” and “open containers” and “were asked to monitor unstable individuals in [Depp’s] life and entourage.”
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The complaint states that the bodyguards “were forced to protect [Depp] from himself and his vices while in public, becoming caretakers for him.” For instance, an “incident at a local nightclub involved [Arreola and Sanchez] alerting Depp of illegal substances visible on his face and person while preventing onlookers from noticing Depp’s condition.” The complaint does not specify what type of “illegal substances.”
Another dangerous incident allegedly occurred when Depp’s head of security accidentally shot himself in the leg “while playing with his weapon in a small control room on Johnny Depp’s property,” according to the complaint.
In addition, while Sanchez was tasked with protecting Depp’s children, he says that “more often than not” he became “the primary caretaker” for the actor’s “minor child.” The actor’s youngest child is 16-year-old John Christopher Depp III from his marriage to Vanessa Paradis. The complaint adds, “Worse yet, Sanchez was told to give into every whim of Depp’s children and worried he would lose his job if he did not comply with their demands.”
As a result of the issues detailed in the complaint, the bodyguards say they “were forced to leave their employment despite the fact that they enjoyed many of the people they worked with and have no ill will toward Johnny Depp.”
Arreola and Sanchez are asking to be compensated for the allegedly unpaid wages, as well as for attorney fees and damages.