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Mel B's Friend Claims Constant Companion Gary Madatyan 'Controls' Her Life Amid Custody Battle With Ex

As her ex-husband Stephen Belafonte attempts to take full custody of their daughter, troubled Mel B's longtime friend has serious concerns about her hairdresser pal Gary Madatyan's influence in her life, Rusty Updegraff told in an exclusive interview.

"I'm concerned for Melanie and I believe that Gary is like Sam Lutfi was in Britney Spears life," Updegraff told, referring to Spears' former manager during her very public breakdown. "The way Sam Lutfi took over Britney's life, Gary has done the same with Melanie."

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Updegraff, an L.A.-based restaurateur, said he had no choice but to come forward because he believes Madatyan "controls" the 43-year-old former Spice Girl's life.

"I have decided to go public now with my concerns because I'm truly concerned about Melanie. Gary rules the roost, whatever he says goes," he continued.

"Gary buys all of her clothes for America's Got Talent, handles all of her bookings, travel arrangements and access to Melanie. He has access to her money, business deals and bookings. Gary controls access to Melanie, he absolutely enables her, and does nothing to help her."

"It's really disturbing," he went on. "Melanie doesn't have any friends, her friends are only Gary's friends. Usually it's only the two of them hanging out together."

The scandal-trodden mother of three, however, is "fiercely loyal" to her constant companion, and will fire anyone who speaks out against him, Updegraff claimed.

When contacted for comment by, Madatyan said: "I feel very, very sorry for him and he needs another 35 years of school."

Mel B
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As exclusively reported yesterday, Belafonte will fight for temporary full custody of Madison, 7, while the star undergoes treatment for alcohol issues. The pair will face off in L.A. court on Friday, August 31.

“Stephen wants his ex-wife to get proper treatment and is concerned for the safety and welfare of their daughter,” the insider said of the pair, who finalized their divorce last December after a nasty court battle.

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The singer told The Sun last week that she will soon enter a therapy program to cope with PTSD and alcohol dependency.

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