Thread: Reggie Bush Investigation
09-15-2006, 04:13 PM #11Prophet Guest
Re: Reggie Bush Investigation
Updated Friday, September 15, at 5:15 a.m
Bush In A Big Pile Of Dookie?
Continuing their lead in investigating the Reggie Bush-Indian tribe-free house saga, Yahoo! Sports late Thursday night continued its barrage with accusations that Reggie and his peeps supposedly accepted financial benefits worth more than $100,000 from marketing agents while Bush was playing at the University of Southern California.
The benefits, which could lead to NCAA sanctions for USC and retroactively cost Bush his college eligibility and Heisman, were supplied by two groups attempting to woo Bush as a client. Current Bush marketing agent Mike Ornstein and one of Ornstein's employees were involved. So were Michael Michaels and Lloyd Lake, who attempted to launch an agency called New Era Sports & Entertainment, pursuing Bush as their first client.
Per writers Jason Cole and Charles Robinson, documents and on-the-record interviews with sources close to the situation reveal that Bush and his family appear to have received financial benefits from Ornstein and a business associate. Those benefits include:
$595.20 in round-trip airfare from San Diego to Oakland in November 2005 for Bush's stepfather, LaMar Griffin, his mother, Denise Griffin and younger brother to attend the USC-California game at Berkeley. The fees were charged to the credit card of Jamie Fritz, an employee of Ornstein. The document detailing the charges was provided by Lee Pfeifer, an estranged business associate of Ornstein's.
$250.65 for limousine transportation from the Oakland airport to the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco that November weekend for the Bush family, charged to Fritz, according to a document. Ornstein acknowledged both he and Bush's family stayed at the luxury hotel.
Additionally, New Jersey memorabilia dealer Bob DeMartino alleges that Ornstein provided:
Suits for Bush's stepfather and brother to wear during the Dec. 10, 2005 Heisman ceremony in New York, a makeover for his mother for the event and limousine transportation;
Weekly payments of at least $1,500 to the Bush family.
Documents and multiple sources also link Bush and his family to receiving benefits from New Era's financial backers, including:
$623.63 for a hotel stay by Bush at the Venetian Resort & Casino in Las Vegas from March 11-13, 2005, charged to Michaels, according to a document signed by Bush.
$1,574.86 for a stay by Bush at the Manchester Hyatt in San Diego from March 4-6, 2005, paid for by Michaels, according to a hotel document, a hotel employee and a source.
Approximately $13,000 to Bush from New Era to purchase and modify a car, three sources said.
As reported by Yahoo! Sports in April, $54,000 in rent-free living for a year at Michaels' $757,500 home in Spring Valley, Calif., according to Michaels and San Diego attorney Brian Watkins.
Also from previous Yahoo! reports, $28,000 from Michaels to help Bush's family settle pre-existing debt, according to Michaels and Watkins.
Thousands of dollars in spending money to both Bush and his family from the prospective agents, according to multiple sources.
Approached about the financial ties on Sept. 7. Bush politely dismissed a Yahoo! Sports reporter.
"I don't want to talk about it," he said, three days before making his NFL debut with the New Orleans Saints last Sunday.
Meanwhile, Ornstein denied giving Bush or his family benefits, calling the accusation of cash payments a lie. Ornstein described travel arrangements made by Fritz as loans that were paid back by the Bush family.
"Reggie Bush never received an extra benefit from Mike Ornstein other than what he was allowed to get from the NCAA when he worked with us," Ornstein said, referring to the fact that Bush was an intern at Ornstein's marketing company in the summer of 2005. "I feel pretty damn good about that.'
Asked why his employee, Fritz, had paid for airfare and a limousine for the Bush family's trip to the Cal game, Ornstein said he believed the funds were paid back.
"Jamie may have paid or put it on his credit card," Ornstein said. "I don't think (Reggie's) parents have a credit card, but his parents paid for everything."
Fritz declined comment, but documents obtained by Yahoo! Sports indicate both the airfare and limousine rental for the trip to the Bay Area were paid in full on Fritz's American Express card prior to the trip being taken. Ornstein also used the card in August to book his own trip to Bush's NFL preseason debut against the Tennessee Titans.
The card establishes a direct link between Bush's family and Ornstein's office while Bush was still at USC, but Ornstein insisted it was merely a matter of helping the family.
"If the dad asked, then maybe (Jamie helped)," he said. "The (family) went on other trips. I'm sure the father â€“ if it was anything that needed a credit card to guarantee the hotel and everything â€“ then I'm sure Jamie will have documentation and cash receipts from the father. I guarantee it."
Asked whether he was aware that such loans could constitute an NCAA violation, Ornstein replied: "I have no idea."
NCAA by-law 18.104.22.168 states that an athlete shall be deemed ineligible if he or she accepts benefits from agents or marketing representatives. The rule further states that student-athletes, their family or friends cannot receive benefits or loans from agents. Additionally, NCAA by-law 22.214.171.124.6 states that athletes cannot receive preferential treatment, benefits or services because of the individual's athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete, unless such treatment, benefits or services are specifically permitted under NCAA legislation.
The NCAA launched an investigation into Bush's eligibility in April after Yahoo! Sports reported that Bush's family had not paid rent after living for a year in a home owned by Michaels. A Pac-10 investigation followed.
If the NCAA rules that Bush received extra benefits during his playing career at USC, he could be ruled retroactively ineligible. Since some of the benefits date back to the 2004 season, the Trojans' national championship that season could be rescinded. USC could face further NCAA sanctions and Bush's 2005 Heisman Trophy could be in jeopardy. The Heisman ballot indicates that an athlete must meet NCAA eligibility requirements to be considered for college football's most prestigious award.
Yahoo! Sports was denied a request last week to interview USC coach Pete Carroll, running backs coach Todd McNair and athletic director Mike Garrett.
The university instead released a statement though its counsel.
"USC cannot comment on any matter that is the subject of an ongoing NCAA and Pac-10 investigation," university counsel Kelly Bendell said. "USC continues to cooperate fully with the investigation."
Citing policy of not discussing ongoing investigations, NCAA officials declined to comment on the Bush matter.
Following the Trojans' loss to the University of Texas in the national championship game in January 2006, Bush turned professional. He hired Ornstein as his marketing agent, leaving a string of spurned would-be business representatives who claim Bush and his family owes them money. In April, Bush was drafted second overall by the Saints and he later signed a six-year contract guaranteeing him $26.3 million. Ornstein has since helped arrange marketing deals for Bush worth approximately $50 million.
The potential problem for USC goes beyond the trail of money to Bush. The Trojan program could be found by the NCAA to have failed to exert proper institutional control.
Sources told Yahoo! Sports that representatives of New Era were allowed into the USC locker room during the 2005 season. Ornstein and other agents frequented the USC sidelines during several games and numerous practices that season, according to published reports.
Also, McNair allegedly knew of Bush's involvement with the New Era venture before last season's national championship game against Texas, according to two sources. And at one point during the 2005 season, sources say Bush thought that Carroll knew about his parent's living arrangement and feared he was going to conduct his own investigation. Bush called Michaels, instructing that if Carroll called regarding the house to "tell him that you're a longtime family friend." Carroll never called Michaels.
In April, the Bush camp attempted to distance the running back from a direct relationship with Michaels.
"I know for a fact that everything is fine and this is all blown out of proportion and there's more to the story than is being told right now," Bush said April 27 at a predraft meeting with reporters in New York.
But when Bush stayed at the Venetian almost one year earlier, he signed for room charges that were paid for on Michaels' credit card. Another document related to that stay was filled out by Michaels, authorizing the hotel to charge Bush's stay to one of Michaels' credit cards. Yahoo! Sports obtained copies of both documents.
Earlier in March 2005, Bush stayed for two days at the Manchester Hyatt on the downtown San Diego waterfront, according to a document, a hotel front-desk employee and another source. Charges for the room were paid for on Michaels' credit card. The dates of the stay coincided with Bush attending a birthday party for former NFL and San Diego State star Marshall Faulk.
For Bush's family, the makeover, suits and limousine for the Heisman ceremony were a small part of the benefits they allegedly received.
DeMartino said that on the weekend of the Heisman ceremony in New York, three weeks before USC faced Texas in the BCS championship, Ornstein borrowed $500 from him to help make an "allowance" payment to Bush's family. DeMartino, who has known Ornstein for about 20 years, said he was at the family's hotel in New York to meet with them about a memorabilia proposal that he had submitted to Ornstein in November.
"We were standing around waiting for the family to show up," DeMartino said, recalling the Dec. 9 meeting. "Mike says to me, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ(Expletive), it's pay day.' He looked in his wallet, said he was a little short and asked me if he could borrow some money till the next day so he could give the family their money."
DeMartino said Ornstein explained to him that Bush's stepfather received a weekly payment of $1,000. Bush's mother received $500 and Bush's younger brother also received money.
"I'm not going to lie for the guy (Ornstein). You asked me a question, I'm going to tell you the truth," said DeMartino, who received payment after settling a financial dispute with Ornstein last week. The day after settling, DeMartino told Yahoo! Sports that he stood by his statements regarding his interaction with Ornstein in New York.
"That is a 100-percent lie," Ornstein said in a phone interview last week. "That never happened. I swear on my son, I swear on my mother, I swear on my brother. â€¦ I swear on my whole family. Let them all die tomorrow if I'm telling a lie."
Repeated attempts to reach LaMar and Denise Griffin by phone for comment were unsuccessful.
New Era's Lake, interviewed by Yahoo! Sports at the South Bay Detention Center in Chula Vista, Calif., on Aug. 27, said he was told by Bush that Ornstein was paying the running back.
Asked why DeMartino would say Ornstein was giving Bush and his family benefits, Ornstein said it was an act of vengeance after Ornstein didn't sign DeMartino as Bush's memorabilia agent. DeMartino claims he was the one who backed out of the deal, because Ornstein was asking for too much money. Asked how Bush's family was able to afford travel to USC road games last season and live in a 3,000-square-foot house belonging to a New Era Sports representative, Ornstein said he had "no idea."
"I'm not involved with that," Ornstein said. "I wasn't involved with the family at that point.
"If (Reggie's step) father did something wrong six months ago, eight months ago, that's not a story to me. â€¦ Did Michael Michaels do something like that with them? He may have, but Mr. Griffin is living in San Diego and Reggie is up in L.A., so how would he know?
"If you ask me, Mike Ornstein, I'd say 100-percent Reggie never took anything."
Ornstein said starting in November 2005, he advised the family on some issues and recommended agents but gave the family nothing of value until after signing Bush.
"And I haven't really given them anything since I signed Reggie," Ornstein said. "Reggie's been taking care of his family. On a couple of occasions, Reggie's (step)father borrowed money and he paid me back afterwards.'
Ornstein is the former director of club marketing for NFL Properties who in 1995 pled guilty to one count of mail fraud for his actions in an attempt to defraud the league. Ornstein was sentenced to five years probation, four months of home confinement and had to make $160,000 restitution to the league for the crime, according to published reports.
As a followup to their meeting in New York, DeMartino said that Ornstein solicited via email a $500,000 down payment for a prospective memorabilia deal. The email is dated Dec. 29, five days before Bush played in his last college football game and within two weeks of signing a contract to be represented by Ornstein.
Ornstein acknowledges that he negotiated in principle numerous marketing deals on behalf of Bush during the 2005 season. NCAA rule 126.96.36.199 reads in part "an individual shall be ineligible â€¦ if any person who represents any individual in the marketing of his or her athletic ability."
Ornstein contends that he operated within the NCAA rules, since no deal was finalized until after the season.
"All of that was based on only if I got [Bush] as client," Ornstein told reporters at the NFL Draft in April. "It was only going to be if and when I signed him. No deal was ever consummated until Reggie signed with me after the season."
At the same time Bush's family was allegedly receiving money from Ornstein, they continued to take gifts and benefits from Michaels as well, according to two sources. Michaels bought them expensive dinners and took them on shopping trips, the sources said. And the family continued to live in Michaels' home, without paying rent, until April.
Bush asserted in April that he and his family did nothing improper after news of his parents' living arrangements surfaced on the eve of the NFL Draft.
"When this is all said and done, everybody will see at the end of the day that we've done nothing â€“ absolutely nothing wrong," Bush said during an interview with ESPN on April 24.
Bush's family was eventually evicted from the home in Spring Valley after failing to pay approximately $54,000 agreed to in a lease with Michaels. A source said the family also promised to buy the home from Michaels at one point. It's now up for sale. When the family moved out, Michaels said they also took approximately $12,000 worth of furniture purchased by Michaels.
CFT Analysis: Don't let that sh-t from the fan get your uni too dirty Reg.
09-16-2006, 02:04 PM #12Prophet Guest
Re: Reggie Bush Investigation
POSTED 11:17 p.m. EDT, September 15, 2006
DENY, DENY, DENY
A league source tells us that Saints running back Reggie Bush will continue to flatly deny allegations that he received payments and other benefits in violation of NCAA rules, without addressing publicly his or his family's versions of the events.
On Friday, Bush addressed a damning Yahoo! Sports report by, well, not addressing it.
"I'm not worried about any of these allegations or anything like that, because I know what the truth is, like I said from day one," Bush said. "Once the smoke clears, everybody's going to see we did nothing wrong."
Bush previously has made similar pronouncements -- but then refused to speak with NCAA investigators regarding the situation.
Bush would be wise, in our view, to be prepared to come clean if/when the IRS ever comes sniffing around regarding the question of whether payments constituting income were made to Bush by anyone while he was still eligible to play college football.
If the payments are income, and if Bush didn't pay taxes, it could be a big problem.
The cover up is often worse than the crime, and Bush could find himself doing the shower room limbo if he decides to play cute with the feds.
The best advice he could get right now?
If there's any chance that payments received by him in 2004 or 2005 could be construed as income, Bush should regard the payments as income right now and pay directly to the IRS the full amount of any associated taxes, plus any penalties and interest.
If handled discreetly, there's a chance that the media would never find out.
And if the information somehow gets leaked, Bush can claim that he was just being cautious in making the payments, since he can't control whether the IRS ultimately would have believed the lies being told about him.
If, on the other hand, the allegations have merit and Bush tries to play dumb or mince words, he stands to lose a lot more than what it would cost to take care of the matter right now.
09-16-2006, 06:46 PM #13Prophet Guest
Re: Reggie Bush Investigation
POSTED 7:32 p.m. EDT, September 16, 2006
LEN THROWS ANOTHER BONE TO SEGAL
At a time when the Reggie Bush camp is reeling from a chapter-and-verse report outlining numerous apparent instances in which Bush and/or his family members received payments or other benefits in violation of NCAA rules, one of his agent's best pals in media circles is re-shuffling the top of the 2006 draft and proclaiming that, if the draft were held today, the Houston Texans would pounce on the 2005 Heisman winner.
Along the way, ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli contends that the only reason for Houston's decision to take defensive end Mario Williams over Bush was "signability," a reference to the perception that Segal wouldn't do a reasonable deal before the draft.
But the decision was more complex than that.
Sure, there's a school of thought that the team decided as a football matter that Williams would be more valuable to the long-term prospects of the franchise than Bush, a whirling dervish who doesn't fit well in the Denver/Houston one-cut rushing attack.
The tipping point for the Texans, however, was the manner in which Bush handled the initial wave of negative press resulting from his family's rent-free housing arrangements in San Diego.
Bush, as we've heard in the past, blew off the Texans for a couple of days when they tried to reach him to discuss the reports.
When Bush finally talked with the powers-that-be in Houston, they concluded that he was speaking with forked tongue, and they decided that they didn't want him to be the face of the franchise for the next decade.
So if, as Len suggests, the draft were being held today, the decision would be the same.
Especially in light of Thursday night's report making a strong case for the proposition that Bush will eventually be required to pack up is Heisman and mail it to Uncle Rico in Nashville.
Meanwhile, the notion that Bush will be a superior performer based one on regular season game borders on the goofy.
Bush racked up 141 all-purpose yards against a poor Browns team; Williams was stifled by the Eagles.
Of course, Len didn't mention that point, since it would have undermined his effort to throw out some positive press for Bush (and Segal) at a time when Bush's image is taking another hit.
09-18-2006, 12:51 PM #14Prophet Guest
Re: Reggie Bush Investigation
POSTED 8:33 a.m. EDT; UPDATED 9:40 a.m. EDT, September 18, 2006
ACTIONS OF "DEFIANT" BUSH SPEAK VOLUMES
On Sunday's Football Night in America (and Portions of California), Peter King said that Saints running back Reggie Bush was "defiant" in his position that he won't lose the Heisman as a result of the current brouhaha engulfing Bush and his family.
But league insiders who have studied the allegations that Bush and his family received payments and other benefits while still eligible to play college football at USC believe that Bush is merely carrying out a strategy aimed at protecting his public image.
It's also possible that lawyer David Cornwell and others intentionally have kept the 21-year-old Bush in the dark regarding the potential consequences of the situation, so that his defiance will come off as credible.
Indeed, Charley Casserly of CBS said on Sunday that he asked Bush point blank in April if he accepted money or otherwise did anything to render himself ineligible while at USC.
Bush said no.
Asked by Casserly how his parents were paying the rent on a house that was by all appearances above and beyond their means, Bush said that he had no idea.
However, if it's proven that Bush's family was receiving benefits from a prospective marketing agent, that's enough for the NCAA to find that Bush lost his eligibility -- even if he didn't know what was happening.
Any other rule would give a player's parents license to harvest as much cash and free stuff as possible, as long as the kid wasn't told about any of it.
The key, as one league insider explained on Sunday night, is the fact that no one has filed suit for defamation against any of the persons who are claiming that payments were made to Bush and/or his family:
Brian Watkins, counsel for New Era Sports and Entertainment; sports memorabilia dealer Bob DeMartino; and/or Yahoo! Sports.
Though on one hand it could be argued that Bush and his advisers regard filing suit as a "low road" approach, there are indications that Bush's lawyer David Cornwell has tried to scare New Era away by instigating an FBI investigation, which if true hardly would be considered a high road tactic.
Likewise, Bush's marketing agent, Mike Ornstein, has a reputation for responding aggressively to news items that undermine his interests.
"If it's not true," said one source, "they should sue.
By not suing, they're sending a subtle message that it is true."
Despite the fact that public figures claiming that they have been defamed must show actual malice on the part of those who tell tales about them, the circumstances surrounding the statements made by Watkins and DeMartino could support a finding that their motives were malicious.
If, for example, Cornwell thinks that New Era's efforts against the Bushes are part of a broader plan to extort money from the family, then any misstatements regarding the benefits allegedly given to the family necessarily would have been made with actual malice.
Likewise, if DeMartino is merely getting back at Ornstein for a business deal gone bad, DeMartino's alleged lies regarding Ornstein arguably are tainted with malice.
So even though the notion that Bush is "defiant" in his denials might sound good in a ten-second sound bite, the fact that Bush has done nothing to vindicate himself is, to the trained eye, evidence that he is merely saying what he has to say in order to keep his sponsors at the table for as long as possible.
09-21-2006, 12:43 PM #15Prophet Guest
Re: Reggie Bush Investigation
Reggie Bush Claims He Made $100,000 Through USC Work-Study Program
September 21, 2006
NEW ORLEANSâ€”Saints running back and former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush refuted charges Monday that he accepted gifts, money, and other benefits exceeding $100,000 in value while playing football for the University of Southern California, claiming he earned that money "fair and square through constant hard work" at various on-campus work-study jobs.
"During my time at USC, I managed not only to carry a full 12-unit course load every semester while playing Division I football, but I also worked as many as 15 simultaneous work-study jobs that allowed me the opportunity to provide food, clothing, and shelter for my family with a little spending money left over," Bush said, reading from a prepared statement at the Saints training facility. Bush also added that, on average, the university's work-study jobs paid $6.50 an hour. "I did not, I repeat, did not earn a dime for my play on the field."
Bush added: "I used the same focus, intensity, and relentless effort to shelve over 450,000 books as a librarian's assistant at the East Asian Library, Gerontology Library, and Hoose Library Of Philosophy that I did to help lead the Trojans to the 2004 national championship."
According to Bush, the librarian's assistant jobs, along with transporting television sets, DVD players, and overhead projectors across the campus for the school's audio-visual department, allowed Bush to purchase new suits for his stepfather and brother, a makeover for his mother, and limousine service to and from the Downtown Athletic Club for his Heisman Trophy ceremony.
"Whenever I would show a clip and the sound wouldn't work, it was always Reggie who would sprint the 40 yards from the audio-visual center in 4.2 seconds flat," said history professor Niles Langford. "And since I'm a real dumbbell with these electronics, believe me, he earned his money."
Bush said that he was able to purchase a 45-inch high-definition flat-screen television, rent his posh downtown apartment, and buy his friends the newest pair of Air Jordans by "working [his] butt off at the Carl's Jr. in the student union, taking lecture notes for disabled students six times a week, and working the Sunday-morning shift as a security guard at Trojan Hall."
"Reggie paid strict attention to those who entered and exited the dorm, making sure the guest policy was upheld and honored," said dorm supervisor Alex Valinsky. "Under his watch, nearly 17,000 guest violations were recorded."
"Easily a school record," Valinsky added. "Better even than O.J.'s work guarding faculty parking."
In addition, Bush said he worked after football practice from midnight until 5 a.m. for USC's Campus Cruiser Program, in which students who were out late and fearful of their general safety could call Bush's brand-new Motorola Razr cellular phone and be driven back to their dormitories in Bush's 2005 Cadillac Escalade with headrest television monitors.
"He was always very kind, polite, and never asked any embarrassing questions about what we had been doing," said USC junior Rebecca Meuthing, adding that in each of the nearly 1,160 times he escorted her home, Bush waited outside the dormitory listening to the newest rap CDs until he was sure she got in safely. "Sometimes we talked about football, but he mostly talked about how, after he dropped me off, he had to get to his work-study job entering grades into the USC School of Architecture database."
The money from that particular job, Bush insists, went a long way in providing his relatives with round-trip airfare so they could watch him compete on game day.
The biggest charge against Bushâ€”the question of his family's ability to move from their small San Diego apartment to a $757,000 home in Spring Valley during Bush's junior yearâ€”could, according to Bush, be explained by his "cushy" job in the Student Activities Office, which Bush admits was "pretty easy," saying he "literally did nothing for $11 an hour."
"When I find the shoebox with all of my time sheets and pay stubs, I will be vindicated of any wrongdoing," Bush's statement concluded. "Unfortunately, most of these hundreds of boxes seem to contain new pairs of shoes, but they have to turn up sooner or later."
Trojans head coach Pete Carroll, who took reporters' questions as an opportunity to praise his former running back's "impeccable work ethic," said he was unaware the running back was making so much money, adding that he assumed the Hummer limousine in which Bush arrived at practice every day was simply provided by his agent.
Reggie Bush makes exciting trip through his garage, bedroom and front yard just to get to the fridge
Reggie Bush got up from his living room couch last evening and made a breathtaking trek out his front door, through his yard, back into his house, into his bedroom and then finally to his kitchen to get a soda from the fridge â€“ a total distance of 95 yards even though his refrigerator is just feet from his sofa.
â€œReggie just blew my mind when he did that,â€ said teammate Deuce McAllister, who was visiting the superstar rookie. â€œHe looked so smooth. Sure, he could have just gone right to the fridge and saved himself some time and effort, but what he did gave him so many more options and opportunities. I mean, what if he had gone out in his yard and found a million bucks laying there? It would have been all worth it. And I would have missed it. I would have gone right to the fridge and then I would have missed out on the money.â€
Bush said that while he didnâ€™t find any money in his yard, he knows that eventually his wayward journeys will pay off.
â€œItâ€™s all about continuing the way I do things and biding my time,â€ said Bush. â€œEventually it will all pay off.â€
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