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Greg Mortenson is back in the spotlight

"Three Cups of Tea" author Greg Mortenson remains silent as his attorneys fight a $5 million class action lawsuit.

By Husna Haq / August 29, 2011

Thanks to the paperback publication of “Three Cups of Deceit,” a 75-page indictment of Greg Mortenson by Jon Krakauer; a "60 Minutes" rerun; and a pending hearing, Mortenson is back in the headlines.

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More trouble – and scrutiny – is brewing for “Three Cups of Tea” author Greg Mortenson. Claims that Mr. Mortenson fabricated events in his bestselling book, first aired on a CBS “60 Minutes” special in April are receiving renewed attention as the author’s attorneys fight a $5 million class action lawsuit against Mortenson.

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The plaintiffs – former teacher Deborah Netter of Illinois and Montana residents Michele Reinhart and Dan Donovan – claim that Mortenson fooled 4 million people into buying his books by fabricating stories and portraying false events as true, in order to make Mortenson look like a hero and to raise money. The suit also questions whether Mortenson financially benefited from his charity and whether his charity built the number of schools it claimed.

The three plaintiffs are seeking to certify their class-action lawsuit and transfer all of the money from Mortenson’s book sales, estimated at more than $5 million, into a trust to be used for charity.

Mortenson’s attorneys, John Kauffman and Kevin Maclay, have asked a US district court judge in Missoula, Mont., to reject certifying the class action lawsuit.

Mortenson’s woes began earlier this year when a CBS report based on claims made by mountaineer and author Jon Krakauer suggested the “Three Cups of Tea” author fabricated accounts in his beloved bestseller and that his charity, the Central Asia Institute, mishandled donations. The report claimed several passages from “Three Cups of Tea,” including the opening anecdote, were false. It also revealed that Mr. Mortenson’s charity spends more for book promotion and publicity than it does actually building schools overseas.

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