I think this should be in the news section too. It's not "general discussion".
According to all the information I'm finding, he was indeed taking advantage of his father-in-law. He acted as a agency, but he WASN'T an agency. He didn't take any submissions, he just took over some of the clients.
He was one of the plaintiffs trying to get Steinbeck's novels out of Penguin Group's hands according to the additional research I did. He was probably going to con them into signing the same waive of rights for all we know.