Lou Pearlman's Former Business Partner: 'He Hurt a Lot of Us'

AP Photo/John Raoux
Lou Pearlman photographed on Oct. 27, 2006 in Orlando, Fla. 

Florida-based artist manager Donna Wright, who played a pivotal role in the early careers of Backstreet Boys and 'NSYNC, has reacted with mixed emotions about the death of former business partner Lou Pearlman over the weekend. "He hurt a lot of us," she told Orlando's WFTV. "But I guess he can't hurt anyone anymore."

Wright and her ex-husband Johnny were hired by Pearlman in the early 1990s to help break BSB beyond the mall-and-amusement parks scene. According to her firm's website, it was Wright "who secured the Backstreet Boys with a record deal" after holding up her phone during a call with Jive Records while at a raucous concert in Ohio. A similar formula was used by Pearlman and the Wrights with 'NSYNC.

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But the good times did not last and Pearlman was eventually sued by nearly all his acts for misrepresentation and fraud. Wright also filed suit against her former partner; indeed her website bio doesn't mention Pearlman by name, only a "prominent Orlando music developer." Investigators later found that his entire business was built on a massive Ponzi scheme in which he defrauded investors of at least $300 million. In 2008 he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison, where he died Friday night.

"We built this and we thought we would keep it going, but then his greed stepped in and it just ruined everything," Wright said, adding that she had planned to visit Pearlman in prison. "I wanted to tell him how I felt, but I didn't get the chance… It's Okay. It's Okay."