Liarz From the ’Hood

DALLAS AUTHORJERROLD Ladd, whose 1994 book Out of the Madness told the story of his rise out of the Dallas projects by virtue of his writing ability, is suing Alphonso Jackson, head of the Dallas Housing Authority, for defamation. Ladd charges that Jackson told reporters that Ladd had made up some of the gritty details of his life in the projects. Now, in documents filed in state district court, Ladd admits that he lied about some of his criminal exploits at the suggestion of an editor at Warner Books, which gave Ladd a $100,000 advance.

In a deposition, Ladd admitted that he did not commit armed robberies but wrote that he did at the urging of Mauro Dipreta at Warner. “He suggested that I should include my name among the names of my friends who I knew or thought were committing armed robbery,” Ladd says. “He said that no one would pay much attention to that; it will not come back to harm you.”

From transcripts filed in the court:

Page 125 of the book: “From Vernon’s back room, we also planned robberies…So we became stick-up kids, something Vernon had done before.”

JJACKSON’S ATTORNEY: You weren’t a stick-up kid, were you?

LADD: No, sir.

Another excerpt: “Vernon, other young men, and I would rob some place, get us a big booty, and live off it for several months.”

JACKSON’S ATTORNEY: That’s not true, is it?

LADD: No, sir.

“We robbed department stores, fast food restaurants, service stations, and the hordes of small Asian-owned grocery stores.”

JACKSON’S ATTORNEY:You never robbed any of those, did you?

Ladd; No, sir.

“We usually grossed a few hundred, sometimes over a thousand dollars. Afterward, we would split the money.”

JACKSON’S ATTORNEY: That’s not accurate, is it?

LADD: No, sir.

“With our booty, we would give our family members and friends money and gifts, even though we knew some of them would waste it on dope.”

JACKSON’S ATTORNEY: Again, that didn’t include you, did it? LADD: No, sir.

Whatever critics may think of Ladd’s skill as a writer, it’s clear that he was not much of a criminal. But apparendy his editor didn’t think the real life he lived as the bright, precocious son of a drug addict in the projects was horrendous enough to sell books.

Ladd told several people of his editor’s request that he stretch the truth about his criminal acts. “I did it to satisfy the desire of the publisher and not appear too difficult; that I really regretted because I knew in instances like this lawsuit, it would be brought up.”

His admitted fabrications may hurt Ladd in his suit against Jackson, which seems flimsy enough already. Jackson’s alleged comments to the reporters were never published, making it extremely difficult for Ladd to claim that his reputation was harmed.

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