Longtime Eagles manager Irving Azoff took the witness stand in New York City on Wednesday (Feb. 21), testifying in a criminal case involving nearly 100 pages of allegedly stolen Eagles lyrics from the Hotel California album.

Three men — rare books collector Glenn Horowitz, former Rock & Roll Hall of Fame curator Craig Inciardi and rock auctioneer Edward Kosinki — have each been charged with one count of conspiracy in the fourth degree, which would bring a maximum penalty of four years in prison. Additionally, Horowitz is charged with first-degree attempted criminal possession of stolen property, plus two counts of hindering prosecution, while Inciardi and Kosinski are also charged with first-degree counts of criminal possession.

The documents, handwritten by Don Henley, are valued at over $1 million. The band originally gave them to a writer named Ed Sanders, who intended to use them for an authorized Eagles biography. The book was rejected by a publisher and never released. In 2005, Horowitz bought five legal pads of the lyrics for $50,000.  He then sold them to Inciardi and Kosinski for $65,000.

Henley reportedly became aware of the sales in 2012. That same year, he bought several pages of his own lyrics back for $8,500 and filed a police report for stolen property.

"Don made the decision [after other lyrics then appeared on the market]," Azoff said on the stand [via Rolling Stone]. "He felt he was being extorted and he didn't know the extent to which what else was out there and it would open up a can of worms and he would have to continue to write more and more checks to get his lyrics back."

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Azoff noted that Sanders had been given permission to shop the biography to other book publishers, but that that the contents of the documents were still controlled by the Eagles, a deal he described as "the lesser of two evils." A contract shown at the trial proved the agreement, but when asked if anyone within the Eagles' camp had informed Sanders that his selling of the pages was a violation of the contract, Azoff replied, "I don't know."

During their opening arguments, the prosecution asserted that the Horowitz, Inciardi and Kosinski were "criminal actors who deceived and manipulated to frustrate Henley’s just efforts to recover his stolen property and to forestall legal accountability." The defense stated that Sanders himself had not been charged with a crime, and their clients were not aware that the documents were anything other than appropriately handled.

Azoff is expected to take the stand again this week, in conjunction with the playing of a recently discovered tape recording between himself and Sanders. Henley is expected to testify next week.

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