SBJ/June 12 - 18, 2006/This Weeks News

Trainer recants statement about agent

A private athletic trainer has recanted a sworn statement he made last year claiming that NFL player agent Gary Wichard paid him to train a student athlete at Florida State University.

Joseph Masiello of Malibu, Calif., states in his new sworn statement that his original statement “contains a number of errors,” and that he “did not have adequate time to review the declaration before executing it.”

Masiello swore under penalty of perjury that both his original Aug. 10, 2005, declaration and his second, May 25, 2006, declaration were true and correct.

Masiello said in his first statement in August 2005 that Wichard paid him to train defensive tackle Travis Johnson, who now plays for the Houston Texans. Masiello did not return messages left on his cell or business phones.

Both of his declarations are part of a lawsuit filed against Wichard’s company, Pro Tect Management, by Joshua Luchs, an NFL player agent and former employee of Wichard who claims he is owed money.

In the original declaration, Masiello stated, “From April [to] May of 2004, I provided training services to Travis Johnson, a student athlete, at the specific request of Gary Wichard.” Johnson, a first-round 2005 NFL draft pick who is represented by Wichard, was a Florida State student athlete in the spring of 2004. Attached to his original declaration, Masiello included an invoice for $1,200 to Pro Tect Management. That invoice included the notation, “Travis.”

In his new declaration, Masiello states “that the invoice attached to my previous declaration was created in error, and that the invoice was never paid by Gary Wichard or Pro Tect Management.”

Neither Wichard nor Luchs returned phone calls for this story.

Eileen Darroll, Luchs’ attorney, said, “In August of 2005, Mr. Masiello signed a declaration under penalty of perjury. In January, that declaration was filed with the court and served on Mr. Wichard’s attorney. No one objected to it and no one took any action to challenge the declaration. This only became an issue after the SportsBusiness Journal printed that article.” SportsBusiness Journal on May 29 published an article based on the original declaration. Masiello’s second signed declaration is dated May 25. The Los Angeles Superior Court stamped its filing date as June 6.

Masiello’s new declaration does not elaborate on what errors are contained in his first statement, other than to say that the invoice was inaccurate and was not paid.

Howard Silber, attorney for Wichard, said he knows what the errors are, but that he would not reveal them. He wouldn’t comment further, as a trial date for the lawsuit is pending.

An attempt to reach Johnson through the Houston Texans was unsuccessful.

The NCAA does not allow student athletes to receive any benefit from an agent without jeopardizing their eligibility.

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