A federal grand jury is "investigating possible criminal financial misconduct of the Dodgers and related entities during the ownership of FRANK and JAMIE MCCOURT," according to sources cited by Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. The sources said that authorities have "requested documents from representatives of each of the McCourts and from Major League Baseball." A source said that the investigation started "early last year and appears to be focused on tax issues and possible improprieties in the spending of team funds." Shaikin notes an MLB-appointed trustee "oversaw the Dodgers' financial affairs for more than two months last year." In a subsequent Bankruptcy Court filing, "the league alleged Frank McCourt had 'looted' $189 million from the Dodgers for personal use, a claim his attorneys called unsupportable." Loyola Law School Professor LAURIE LEVENSON said that the grand jury "could subpoena the supporting documents from MLB, in addition to the documents requested from the McCourt representatives." She said the McCourt divorce proceedings and the Dodgers' subsequent bankruptcy filing also could provide documents for investigators to examine "a myriad of possible wrongdoing -- from tax violations, to loan fraud, to bankruptcy fraud, to private fraud." Shaikin notes Guggenheim Baseball Management spokesperson TRIPP KYLE "did not respond to messages asking whether McCourt had disclosed the investigation to the new owners and whether an indictment or conviction would enable them to void or renegotiate the agreement for joint ownership of the parking lots." The divorce and bankruptcy cases "led to revelations about how team money had been diverted for the personal use of the McCourts." Last year in a letter to Frank McCourt, MLB Commissioner BUD SELIG said that the IRS "was investigating the McCourts' tax returns from 2006, 2007 and 2008." The McCourt divorce settlement also "refers to possible penalties for tax returns in 2008 and 2009." In a divorce court filing, Jamie McCourt said that "the couple paid no federal or state income tax from 2004 to 2009" (L.A. TIMES, 5/31).
People and Pop Culture
Legends named DAVE KERSCHNER Senior VP/Facilities & Business Development and ERIC GELFAND Senior VP/Communications. Kerschner previously worked as SCP Senior VP/Development, and managed the development, design and construction for Rio Tinto Stadium, among other projects. Gelfand oversaw communications at SCP (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal)....Chicago Sun-Times Sports Editor CHRIS DE LUCA was named Deputy Managing Editor of News and Sports (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/31)….The Canadian Paralympic Committee named MARTIN RICHARD Exec Dir of Communications & Marketing. Richard has been the Swimming Canada Dir of Communications for the past 10 years (CPC)….WWE hired Global Spectrum GM PATRICK TALTY as Senior VP/Live Events (WWE)….NBC Sports Manager for Strategic Initiatives LINDSAY FITZ is leaving the company for a position with Discovery and TLC Networks. Her last day will be tomorrow (THE DAILY)….The Buccaneers named Seahawks Assistant Dir of College Scouting ERIC STOKES Dir of College Scouting (Buccaneers).
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In Boston, Todd Wallack reports the state of Rhode Island is investigating complaints that former MLBer CURT SCHILLING’s video game company 38 Studios “failed to pay hundreds of workers for several weeks in May before it shut down operations last week.” Workers said that the company, “which laid off its employees on May 24, stopped issuing paychecks after April 30.” A former employee said that workers “found out about the missed paychecks only when they checked their bank accounts and saw they had not been paid” (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/31).
ALWAYS A FIGHTER: UFC President DANA WHITE said that he is "feeling fine" following a recent diagnosis of Meniere's disease, though his doctor “refused to perform dangerous and complex surgery.” White “insists he will make the doctor perform the surgery, which requires a great deal of recuperation and rehab.” White: “They say it takes a month before you can do anything. So it will take me two weeks” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 5/29).
NAMES: Eagles QB MICHAEL VICK is being sued by J.O. Sports Company, which is “alleging that he failed to live up to an agreement that paid the quarterback $101,500.” Among the claims is that Vick “didn’t provide game-worn equipment and didn’t attend private signings, as laid out in the contract” (THEPHILLYPOST.com, 5/29)….NFL agent J.R. RICKERT has been “named as a defendant in three separate lawsuits, the most recent one filed by National Sports Management within the past week” (FORBES.com, 5/29)….About 80 people, including UFC co-Owner FRANK FERTITTA, “showed up at a private $50,000-per person fundraiser" that helped raise $2M for presumptive Republican presidential candidate MITT ROMNEY (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 5/31)….The National Football Foundation and College Football HOF yesterday announced that Univ. of Alabama AD MAL MOORE has been named the ’12 recipient of the John L. Toner Award (NFF).
IN MEMORY: NBA Kings minority Owner JOE BENVENUTI passed away yesterday at the age of 91. Benvenuti was “a prominent developer and visionary entrepreneur who helped bring” the Kings to Sacramento and “built Arco Arena and downtown landmarks.” His son, GARY BENVENUTI, said that his father had “been in declining health since a stroke in October.” Benvenuti partnered with GREGG LUKENBILL to move the Kings to Sacramento in ’85 (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/31)....CBSSports.com Deputy Sports Editor CRAIG STANKE passed away Monday night at age 56 (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/29).