Though well-praised by movie critics, it doesn't mean that "American Gangster" is free from controversy. According to reports, NBC Universal, the owner of Universal Studios which produced the film, has been sued by a group of retired DEA agents on Wednesday, January 16. The three former federal drug enforcement agents filed a $55 million defamation lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan claiming that the Ridley Scott directed-film has falsely made them to be the villains.
Reportedly, Louis Diaz, Gregory Korniloff and Jack Toal believed that the studio who asserted that the film was based on a true story have misinterpreted the events surrounding Frank Lucas and New Jersey Detective Richard Roberts. Korniloff revealed in the suit that he was a lead agent assigned to the case and was present when agents and police officers raided Lucas' home in Teaneck, N.J. in 1975, the scene which is depicted in the film starring Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe and Cuba Gooding Jr..
According to the suit, the agents further stated that the film hurt their reputation by noting down in text at the end of the movie that the collaboration between Lucas and Roberts led to the convictions of three-quarters of New York City's Drug Enforcement Agency agents between 1973 and 1985. The DEA agents' lawyer Dominic Amorosa, who was a prosecutor in the federal case against Lucas in 1975, stood beside his client stating that the filmmakers has unfairly dishonored those who have risked their lives to put away Lucas and other drug criminals in the 1970s and 1980s.
In response to the lawsuit, NBC released a written statement denying the allegations saying, "American Gangster does not defame these, or any, federal agents." The statement also read, "The end legend specifically refers to members of 'New York City's Drug Enforcement Agency' - not the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, where the plaintiffs formerly worked. We believe the lawsuit is entirely without merit."
"American Gangster" released on November 2, 2007 chronicled the rise and fall of former Harlem heroin head man Lucas who turned to be an informant after being caught. The film features corrupt narcotics agents shooting the drug dealer's dog, assaulting his wife and forthrightly stealing money stashed in the house while making the arrest.