Jim Palmer, the Hall of Fame pitcher and current broadcaster for the Baltimore Orioles, filed a civil suit alleging that a former friend committed a carefully orchestrated scheme that cost Palmer nearly $1 million.

The defendant, Warren Michael Holmes, convinced Palmer and his wife, Susan, to help fund several hairstyling businesses, according to a complaint filed at the Superior Court of California in Orange County in November. Despite assurances of repayment, none came, and no apparent progress was made on the business, according to the civil suit.

Holmes, who misrepresented himself as a prominent English hairdresser, also grew close to Palmer’s stepson, Spencer, who has autism, the suit says. The relationship between Spencer, 27, and Holmes was so special, court documents say, that Palmer and his wife, Susan, made Holmes a manager of Spencer’s trust, as well as Spencer’s guardian, should something happen to them.

Palmer, 78, said Susan’s mother has Alzheimer’s disease and her father had dementia. Susan’s biggest fear, Palmer said, is who will continue the lifelong care of her son should she fall ill. Holmes was an answer.

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“Spencer had one friend. One friend in the world. And that was Warren Michael Holmes,” Palmer said in an interview with The Baltimore Banner. “Not that Spencer’s not social; he’s a lot better than he used to be. He says hello to people. But when you only have one friend, and then he betrays. I mean, the money is obviously important, because we thought we were giving him money to realize his dream. But he really took advantage of the whole situation, and I didn’t realize until you get scammed.”

Palmer said he has text messages from Holmes describing Spencer as a brother and assuring Palmer and his wife that he’d take care of Spencer. One of the first things Palmer and his wife did after discovering Holmes’ alleged fraud was remove him from their will.

“He makes Pinocchio look like a straight shooter,” Palmer said. “I mean, everything was a lie. I mean, everything. Did he ever tell us one thing that was true?”

Holmes did not accept a follow request on his private Instagram account and could not be reached independently. He did not have an attorney listed in court records.

Michael Sklaire, an attorney for Palmer, told The Banner that he looks “forward to litigating this matter.” The suit was first reported by The Athletic.

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The complaint accuses Holmes of breach of contract for business and personal loans, negligent misrepresentation, fraud in the inducement and unjust enrichment. Holmes has not been served with the court notice yet, because he has “just disappeared,” Palmer said. An initial hearing is scheduled Feb. 22.

Palmer said he hopes Holmes will also be criminally charged.

Palmer met Holmes in 2015 through mutual friend in Palm Beach, Florida, according to the suit.

In 2018, Holmes began his pursuit of developing a hair care brand called Poo and a brow line called B*tchBrow, court documents say. Holmes asked if he could stay at Palmer’s home in Corona Del Mar, California, to be closer to a beauty packaging manufacturer, KEMAS, that Holmes said he was collaborating with.

That same year, Holmes asked Palmer for a loan to help boost Holmes’ Loved Brands company, which would oversee Poo and B*tchBrow. Palmer loaned Holmes $750,000.

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Palmer allowed Holmes to stay with his family free to travel to meetings at KEMAS. However, in August 2023, Palmer discovered that KEMAS had no plant or office in Temecula, California, and that Holmes had no more than one meeting with Darren Eade, KEMAS’ vice president of sales, the suit says.

Around 2018, Holmes was arrested for a domestic violence offense, according to court documents. Holmes told Palmer that, to run Loved Brands, he needed to resolve the case as quickly as possible. Palmer paid Holmes’ bail bond of $5,000 and the criminal attorney’s retainer of $7,500, along with several thousand dollars’ worth of legal expenses.

Repayment of the initial loan and the legal fees was further delayed, Holmes said, because he needed to prove he was financially independent for visa requirements. Holmes delayed repaying the loans continually over the next several years, court documents say, for a variety of reasons — business setbacks, meetings, non-legally binding contracts and more.

In September 2022, Palmer issued a further loan of $235,000, bringing his business contributions to $985,000, because Palmer was concerned that, if no product ever launched, Holmes would never be able to pay him back.

By March 2023, while at dinner, Holmes asked Palmer for an additional $2.5 million to become a global beauty brand. That request didn’t sit well with Palmer, according to the suit, and Palmer requested Holmes return his money and find someone else to fund the brand.

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Holmes took that as “a threat,” court document say, and became upset.

Despite a meeting scheduled with Holmes’ then-attorney to formalize a repayment plan, Holmes blocked Palmer on social media, text and email, and he deleted a shared note file that had outlined the money Holmes owed Palmer.

Palmer said he hopes what Holmes did to his family becomes a lesson for others to avoid falling for the same trick.

“We have not found one dime that he spent of our money to do the things that we have texts and emails and contracts that he did,” Palmer said. “So, yeah, he just scammed us. And he’ll do it to somebody else.”

But Palmer doesn’t want people in Baltimore to worry about him.

“Go, Ravens,” he said. “That’s the way I look at the whole thing, because this is not anywhere near as important as what’s coming up on Saturday [in the NFL playoffs].”

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville. 

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