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Prosecutors Suddenly Ditch ‘Hotel California’ Lyrics Case

Reuters/Angela Weiss
Reuters/Angela Weiss

Three men who’d been accused of conspiring to possess a cache of hand-drafted lyrics to Hotel California and other Eagles hits had their criminal charges abruptly dropped Wednesday by Manhattan prosecutors.

The trial had been underway for two weeks, but Assistant Manhattan District Attorney Aaron Ginandes conceded to a judge Wednesday morning that “dismissal is appropriate in this case.”

That surprise dismissal came after newly available emails surfaced that raised questions about the trial’s fairness. Those communications became public after Eagles co-founder Don Henley waived his attorney-client privilege last week, the Associated Press reported.

Rare-book dealer Glenn Horowitz, former Rock & Roll Hall of Fame curator Craig Inciardi, and the memorabilia specialist Edward Kosinski are now off the hook. They were each accused of obtaining and selling roughly 100 handwritten pages of lyrics from the Eagles that Henley alleged were stolen, which included the band’s greatest hit, Hotel California, as well as Life in the Fast Lane, New Kid in Town, and others.

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They each pleaded not guilty to charges that included conspiracy to criminally possess stolen property, insisting they were rightful owners of the lyrics when they sold them.

A key witness to the prosecution was Henley. He testified last week that he didn’t realize any lyrics were gone until they began popping up at auction houses in 2012, claiming he never handed over the lyrics to anyone.

Defense attorneys argued that each man purchased the lyrics through a legal forum. They said the chain began with Henley gifting the hand-written lyrics to a writer who worked on a never-published Eagles biography decades ago. That author, who didn’t face charges in the case, was said to have then sold the lyric sheets to Horowitz, who eventually sold the lyrics to Inciardi and Kosinski.

From there, defense attorneys said the lyrics made their way into auction houses, where Henley himself shelled out thousands to buy the lyrics back as he began a police complaint against their sellers.

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