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#pounditFriday, January 21, 2022

Legal Matters

Cut by Raiders, Henry Ruggs faces 20 years in prison

Henry Ruggs talks to reporters

Henry Ruggs has already lost his job and is facing a lengthy prison sentence for his alleged role in a fatal crash on Tuesday morning.

Ruggs, the No. 12 overall pick by the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020, was involved in a fatal car crash in Las Vegas early Tuesday. The 22-year-old wide receiver allegedly was speeding and slammed his Corvette into the back of a Toyota Rav4 around 3:39 a.m. The Toyota caught fire, and a woman inside the car was unable to escape and died.

Another woman, Ruggs’ girlfriend Kiara Washington, was injured in the crash. Washington reportedly sustained serious injuries.

Ruggs showed signs of impairment at the scene, according to police.

Ruggs has already been booked on two felony charges: DUI with serious bodily harm and reckless driving with death or serious bodily harm. He faces up to 20 years in prison for the DUI charge. The reckless driving with death charge also carries a 1-6 year penalty.

Even though they invested a big draft pick in Ruggs, the Raiders did not take long to make a decision on the young man’s future. They announced Tuesday night that they had cut the receiver.

The NFL issued a statement earlier in the day.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim of this horrific tragedy. We will continue to gather facts and monitor the matter under our policies, but our thoughts at this time are with those impacted by this devastating incident,” the NFL said in its statement.

Ruggs had 24 catches for 469 yards and two touchdowns in seven games this season. His NFL career may very well be over after just one and a half seasons.

Photo: Jul 28, 2021; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (11) is pictured during a post-practice presser at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center in Henderson. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Yasiel Puig settles lawsuit with sexual battery accuser

Yasiel Puig

Former Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig, who currently plays in the Mexican League, has settled his sexual battery case, TMZ Sports reports.

Puig’s attorneys informed TMZ Sports that the right fielder paid the accuser part of the settlement, adding “the plaintiff will retain approximately $100,000 or less after covering her attorneys fees and costs.” The plaintiff’s attorney, Vince Finaldi, says Puig paid $250,000 as part of the settlement.

Whatever the undisclosed settlement amount may be, Puig still maintains that the incident was consensual.

“Yasiel specifically denied any admission or implication of fault or wrongdoing,” attorneys from Lesowitz Gebelin LLP said.

Puig was accused of pushing the woman — identified only as Jane Roe in court documents — into the bathroom during a 2018 Los Angeles Lakers game at the Staples Center before being “sexually inappropriate” with her.

The woman claimed she did not know Puig prior to the incident, while Puig suggested they continued to text after the fact.

“The fact is that I had consensual sex with a woman I met at a Lakers game after she propositioned me,” Puig said in a statement at the time. “Afterward, we talked about going out together, but she said she did not want her fiancé to find out. We messaged each other afterward and planned to get together again, but we never did. She’s now suing me based on completely made-up allegations.”

After battling it out in court for a year, the accusers attorney says the matter “has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.”

Cleveland Guardians facing lawsuit over name change

Cleveland Guardians logo

The Cleveland Indians will officially be known as the Cleveland Guardians beginning next season, but another team in the city wants to stop the change from happening.

The Cleveland flat-track roller derby team, which is also known as the Guardians, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday seeking to block the Indians from using their new nickname.

The Indians said in July that they were aware of the Guardians roller derby team, according to WKYC. The MLB franchise claimed it had taken the proper legal steps to secure use of the name, but the roller derby team’s federal lawsuit states otherwise.

“Major League Baseball would never let someone name their lacrosse team the ‘Chicago Cubs’ if the team was in Chicago, or their soccer team the ‘New York Yankees’ if that team was in New York — nor should they,” Christopher Pardo, the attorney representing the roller derby team, said in a statement. “The same laws that protect Major League Baseball from the brand confusion that would occur in those examples also operate in reverse to prevent what the Indians are trying to do here. By taking the name ‘Cleveland Guardians’ overnight, the Indians knowingly and willfully eviscerated the rights of the original owner of that name — the real Cleveland Guardians.”

Cleveland’s MLB franchise first filed a trademark for the name Guardians in the African island of Mauritius, according to reports. That step was said to be taken to keep the plans a secret and not distract from the 2021 season, but the derby team’s lawsuit says the approach was designed to take them by surprise.

“When given an opportunity to acquire all the Cleveland Guardians’ superior rights (including both Cleveland Guardians name and domain), the Indians only offered to pay a nominal amount, likely no more than fifteen minutes of annual team revenue,” the lawsuit states.

Money usually wins out in these types of battles, and MLB and the Indians obviously have a lot more of that than a local roller derby team. The Guardians of MLB have already released several logos and a hype video, so there’s no way they’re going to turn back now.

Ex-Kings announcer Grant Napear suing radio company over ‘all lives matter’ firing

Grant Napear Kings

Former Sacramento Kings play-by-play announcer Grant Napear, who was fired last year after telling DeMarcus Cousins that “all lives matter,” is now suing the parent company of KHTK-AM 1140, which serves as the radio home of the Kings.

Napear is seeking in excess of “$75,000 in damages for wrongful termination, discrimination and retaliation,” reports The Sacramento Bee.

“Over the course of a 26-year broadcasting career (on KHTK) Grant Napear became a prominent member of the media industry,” says the complaint filed by the Ruggles Law Firm of Fair Oaks in a document filed in the Eastern District of California.

“In 2017, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awarded Napear his second Emmy Award for his broadcasting of Sacramento Kings games. … Napear alleges he was terminated because he is a Caucasian man who published a phrase on social media that (Bonneville International) contends violated the company’s ad hoc (and unpublished) policy supporting Black Lives Matter.”

The tweet in question came amid tense protests and demonstrations in Sacramento following the police-involved death of George Floyd.

Cousins, who had a history with Napear, tweeted the announcer and asked his thoughts on “Black Live Matter,” a social movement that aims to call attention to perceived police brutality against the African American community. Napear responded with a tweet that included the phrase, “all lives matter,” which some view as the antithesis to “Black Lives Matter.”

Napear later apologized for his tweet and admitted it came across as “dumb.”

At the time of his firing, Napear told The Sacramento Bee that he was unaware the phrase “all lives matter” was sometimes used as an anti-BLM rallying cry. He insists he meant it in the literal context.

Napear’s lawyer, Matthew J. Ruggles, is seeking a jury trial in federal court.

Floyd Mayweather’s daughter Yaya facing 20 years in prison for alleged stabbing

Floyd Mayweather Jr

Floyd Mayweather’s daughter, Yaya (Iyanna), is facing some severe legal punishments for her involvement in an alleged stabbing.

Yaya, 21, was arrested on April 4, 2020 after an alleged incident involving her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.

Yaya’s boyfriend is rapper Youngboy. Youngboy also has a child with his ex-girlfriend, Lapattra Jacobs. Yaya was at Youngboy’s Houston-area home when Jacobs showed up the night of the alleged incident.

According to TMZ’s original story, the two women reportedly had an argument. Jacobs told Mayweather to leave, while Mayweather allegedly responded by saying she was Youngboy’s fiancee and that Jacobs should leave.

The two ended up getting in a fight in the kitchen, with Mayweather allegedly charging at Jacobs with two knives and stabbing her.

Mayweather allegedly said the altercation began when Jacobs pulled her hair and ran into the kitchen. Youngboy supposedly was handcuffed but later released.

Yaya has a pretrial hearing scheduled for Feb. 2022. She is being charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Such a crime is generally categorized as a second-degree matter and punishable by fines up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of 2 to 20 years in Texas. Under certain circumstances, such a crime can be charged as a first-degree felony assault, which carries a more severe punishment.

In January, Yaya and Youngboy welcomed their first child.

Tip via Big Daddy

Vanessa Bryant accused of ‘money grab’ lawsuit over crash photos

Vanessa Bryant smiles

Vanessa Bryant sued the County of Los Angeles over first responders taking photos of the crash site where her late husband Kobe and daughter, Gianna, died and later sharing them in an unauthorized manner. Now, the county is striking back.

The county is asking Bryant and the family members of those who died in the Jan. 26, 2020 helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. to undergo psychiatric evaluations. The exams are intended to determine whether Vanessa and her family suffered “emotional distress” as a result of the photos being taken and shared.

Vanessa sued the county and alleged she suffered “emotional distress” from the photos being taken and shared despite the pictures never being released publicly. The county understands the emotional damage the helicopter crash caused the family members of the deceased. However, they would like Vanessa to prove she suffered severe negative consequences specifically from the photos.

The County of Los Angeles accused Vanessa of making a “money grab” with her lawsuit.

“It’s horrific, the worst imaginable,” attorneys for the county said in a statement released on Monday. “But she sued the County for something that didn’t happen. There’s been no public disclosure of crash site photos, none. So we see this case as a money grab and are doing what’s necessary to defend our client.”

Vanessa has been involved in numerous lawsuits since her late husband’s death. She sued the county over the photos. She filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the helicopter company. She was also involved in a lawsuit with her mother, though that was recently resolved (details here).

Vanessa, 39, was married to Kobe from 2001 until his death. They had four daughters together, though Gianna died in the helicopter crash.

Photo: Mar 10, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Vanessa Bryant , wife of Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (not pictured), attends the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Rich Paul’s attorneys respond to Nerlens Noel accusation

Nerlens Noel

Nerlens Noel filed a lawsuit against his former agent Rich Paul earlier this year, and Paul has formally responded.

Noel is seeking $58 million after he says he received some poor and extremely costly advice from Paul. Noel says Paul was responsible for the center turning down a four-year, $70 million contract offer from the Dallas Mavericks back in 2017. In a court filing on Monday, Paul’s attorneys denied that and other claims made by Noel.

Noel says Paul advised him to turn down the $70 million contract and told him he deserves a max deal. Noel eventually signed a two-year, $3.75 million deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder ahead of the 2018-19 season. In addition to giving him bad advice, Noel also claims Paul ignored teams that expressed interest in signing his former client. You can read the full details of the lawsuit here.

Winning the lawsuit is a long shot for Noel, but it’s possible he and the NBA Players Association could come to some sort of settlement. Noel and one former NBA star have beefed on Twitter over the allegations.

Trevor Bauer seeking to have accuser pay his legal fees

Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer scored a legal victory in court back in August when a judge denied a restraining order request from a woman who accused the star pitcher of sexual assault. Bauer now wants the woman to face financial consequences.

According to court documents reviewed by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, Bauer is planning to ask a California court to order the woman who accused him of sexual assault to cover his legal costs associated with defending himself. Bauer filed a notice in Los Angeles Superior Court on Sept. 20, but he has not yet asked for a specific amount of money. The filing states that he will defer his request until he receives the woman’s telephone records from the Pasadena Police Department.

In the filing, Bauer accuses the woman of using the restraining order process “gain publicity and harm [Bauer’s] career.” The Los Angeles Dodgers star argues that phone records obtained by Pasadena police during their investigation will show that the alleged victim “deliberately and systematically deleted and hid much information relevant to a full and complete understanding of her encounters with Mr. Bauer, including communications with her closest friends that revealed her improper motive.”

As Shaikin notes, California Family Code states that a court can order attorney fees to be paid to the prevailing party in a restraining order case. Bauer prevailed in the case, as a judge ruled in August that the temporary restraining order obtained by the accuser was not warranted and denied the woman’s request for a long-term restraining order.

Bauer’s representatives previously provided text messages to Larry Brown Sports that they say help prove the pitcher’s innocence. You can see those screenshots here.

Allegations from a second woman have since been uncovered, and Bauer has vehemently denied those as well. He shared a series of text messages that he says prove his innocence.

The case now resides with the district attorney, who will decide whether to pursue charges against Bauer.

Bauer last pitched for the Dodgers on June 28. He was placed on paid administrative leave after that. He would have been eligible for the postseason, but reports have said his teammates don’t want him back under any circumstance.

Ex-NBA player implicated himself in fraud scheme with boneheaded move

Greg Smith

Greg Smith is one of more than a dozen former NBA players who were arrested on Thursday in connection with a fraud scheme. If the allegations against him are true, it does not sound like Smith is a very savvy criminal.

Smith and 17 other ex-NBA players are facing federal charges after they allegedly defrauded the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan out of nearly $4 million. Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, held a press conference on Thursday to reveal details of the investigation. She discussed, among other things, how the former players submitted false claims for root canals and other dental procedures that they never underwent. Smith allegedly submitted a false claim for nearly $50,000 worth of dental work that he claimed he had in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Dec. 20, 2018. Investigators determined that Smith was in Taiwan that day.

How did they figure that out? Smith was playing basketball in Taiwan at the time. Box scores even served as evidence.

Smith has played for three different NBA teams in addition to several professional teams overseas. He played for Bank of Taiwan in Taiwan’s Super Basketball League back in 2018.

Strauss explained that other former players, including Glen “Big Baby” Davis, submitted false claims for ridiculous amounts of dental work they said they had in a single day.

That doesn’t sound like the perfect crime.

Terrence Williams, who was drafted by the New Jersey Nets with the 11th overall pick in 2009, was the alleged orchestrator of the fraud scheme. Apparently he did not think it through. You can read more details about the case here.

Big Baby Davis, Tony Allen among ex-NBA players arrested on fraud charges

Glen Davis

More than a dozen NBA players were arrested on Thursday following an investigation into a fraud scheme, and there were some very recognizable names among the group.

An indictment that was unsealed in New York showed that 18 former NBA players have been federally charged for allegedly defrauding the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan out of nearly $4 million, according to NBC News. Terrence Williams was considered the ringleader of the scheme, which involved players submitting fake reimbursement claims for medical and dental services they never received. The charges the ex-players are facing are conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud.

In addition to Williams, players involved include Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Tony Allen, Sebastian Telfair, Shannon Brown and Darius Miles. You can see the full list of names below:

Allen’s wife, Desiree Allen, was also charged.

According to the grand jury indictment, the defendants took part in a widespread scheme from 2017-2020. The fraudulent claims that were submitted totaled $3.9 million — $2.5 million of which was paid out to the former players. Williams allegedly came up with the idea and created fake invoices for other defendants. Investigators say he received kickbacks totaling at least $230,000 from the other ex-players.

Williams also allegedly helped some of the defendants obtain fake letters of medical necessity in order to secure have claims processed by the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan.

Davis has been in trouble with the law before, as he was charged for allegedly attacking a man in a parking lot more than three years ago.