The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

March 26, 2012

Ex-Letterman: Butala hasn’t paid me

SHENANGO VALLEY — The former Letterman singer accused of violating his employment contract with Tony Butala said Butala breached the contract first.

Mark Preston said the contract’s post-employment provisions are not enforceable because Butala, the lone original member of the ’60s hit-making trio, has failed to pay him wages and royalties.

Butala, of Sharon, sued Preston Feb. 3 in Mercer County Common Pleas Court alleging Preston violated his employment contract by representing himself as a former member of the group; using portions of Butala-owned Lettermen performances on his website and Facebook page; recording Lettermen songs; and referring to sweaters in his post-Letterman group.

Preston, of York County, had the suit transferred to federal court in Pittsburgh because some of the allegations involve federal law.

Preston was with the group at two different times, the last running from Sept. 1, 2005, until Aug. 4. His contract forbade Preston from representing himself for profit as a former member of the Lettermen or performing Letterman songs without permission, the suit said.

In his answer to the suit, Preston acknowledged referring to his time with the Lettermen – including an October Facebook posting that said he was “of” the Lettermen – and using portions of Lettermen songs for advertisements and promotions for economic gain, and that such use violated the contract. But, Preston said, the contract cannot be enforced because of Butala’s failure to pay him.

Preston also acknowledged trying to form a Lettermen tribute group, but said it has no bookings.

Butala cannot show that he suffered any damage from Preston’s activities, Preston said.

In response to copyright and trademark allegations, Preston said Butala did not arrange the songs or instrumentation, and does not own the rights to the instrumentation, arrangements and contents of Lettermen songs and video performances.

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