SBJ/Nov. 25-Dec. 1, 2013/Labor and Agents

NFL players file arbitration claim over failed casino project

Liz Mullen
Nine current or former NFL players, including Clinton Portis, Jevon Kearse and Brandon Meriweather, have filed an arbitration claim with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority seeking to recover damages against security clearing services firm Pershing LLC, alleging it enabled the transfer of the players’ funds into a failed casino project.

Jamaal Anderson, Tavares Gooden, Greg Jones, Santana Moss, Fred Taylor and Gerard Warren are the other six players who joined together as claimants seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and other relief to be proved at a hearing before the FINRA Dispute Resolution arbitration service.

Pershing Vice President Paul Patella said the company would not comment on pending legal matters.

The nine players who filed the claim against Pershing are also part of a group of 16 former and current NFL players who are suing BB&T Corp., parent company of the former BankAtlantic, for almost $53 million in a lawsuit filed earlier this month in federal court in south Florida, said Larry Landsman, attorney for the players in both the lawsuit and the FINRA claim. The players filed the claim before independent securities regulator FINRA because Pershing’s customer agreements require arbitration, Landsman said.

All are part of a group of former and current NFL players who were represented by former financial adviser Jeff Rubin, and lost millions that was invested in an Alabama casino project that went out of business. The claim before FINRA alleges that “defective letters of authorization” that were processed by Pershing were used to transfer money out of the players’ accounts.

Landsman said the exact amount of the players’ losses in the FINRA claim would be determined through discovery, but it was in the millions of dollars.

“We are looking for all responsible parties to return the misappropriated money for these players,” Landsman said.

> ‘THE TIME IS RIGHT’: IMG has signed Syracuse assistant basketball coach Mike Hopkins, who has been the head-coach-in-waiting for the Orange since 2007.

At IMG, Hopkins will be represented by Sandy Montag, senior corporate vice president and head of clients. Hopkins was previously unrepresented.

“His next contract will be a head coaching contract,” Montag said. “I have known Mike a while, and the time is right for him to get some representation.”

A Syracuse alum, Montag signed Syracuse football coach Scott Shafer as a client earlier this year.

> PLAYERS RETURN TO TLA: The Legacy Agency has re-signed Minnesota Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia and a top New York Mets prospect, pitcher Rafael Montero, as clients.
 
Additionally, TLA has signed Twins catcher Josmil Pinto as a new client.

TLA agents Peter Greenberg, Edward Greenberg and Chris Leible will represent the players.

Arcia is returning to TLA after about nine months of being represented by International Law Group. Montero is returning to TLA after being gone for about a year, and was most recently represented by Praver Shapiro Sports Management.

Pinto was represented by SFX Baseball, a division of Relativity Sports.

> MARKOV LEAVES MEEHAN: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov has left his longtime agent, Newport Sports founder Don Meehan.

“I wish Andrei well,” Meehan wrote in an email. “I have enjoyed our professional relationship for over 13 years.”

It was not clear why Markov left, but more than one NHL agent was seeking meetings trying to sign the Russia native and former NHL All-Star as a client last week.

> CAA SIGNS JACKSON: CAA Sports has signed Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson for representation.

Jackson will be represented by a team of agents led by Aaron Mintz.

Jackson, who was the No. 24 overall pick in 2011, was formerly represented by Priority Sports & Entertainment. Mintz left Priority and joined CAA in March 2012.

Jackson signed with Mintz after an agent search run by his brother, Travis Jackson, in which multiple firms competed to sign him, sources said.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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