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#pounditMonday, July 4, 2022

Legal Matters

Florida high school runner considering lawsuit after sucker punch

Florida runner hit in the head

The high school runner who was sucker-punched in the back of the head during a race last weekend may take legal action, contrary to what was initially reported.

A video went viral this week that showed the ugly incident between two competitors at a high school track meet in Florida. The video clip showed runners competing in the Tohopekaliga Tiger Invitational in Kissimmee, Fla. One runner out in front got chased down by another person, who knocked the first runner down with a big punch to the head. You can see the disturbing clip here.

TMZ was initially told by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office that the runner who was punched did not want to press charges. The perpetrator, who was allegedly angry after he was pushed earlier in the race, also did not want to file a complaint.

Nathan Carter, an attorney for the student who was punched, said that is not true. His client wants to press charges and may also file a lawsuit. Carter said the young man suffered a concussion and is “exploring civil remedies against all those responsible.”

“The family of the victim did want to press charges for this vicious attack and assault caught on video and witnessed by hundreds of people,” Carter said. “The OCSD deputy told the family that if [my client] pressed charges then he would also be arrested for battery. Only because of this threat did the family choose not to press charges.”

Carter added that the incident could have been prevented if the organizers of the track meet had done their jobs.

Florida High School Athletic Association officials are determining what disciplinary action may be taken.

Washington Commanders accused of withholding ticket revenue from NFL

Daniel Snyder looks on

Of all the gross things Daniel Snyder has done throughout his tenure as the owner of the Washington NFL franchise, the latest allegation may be something to spur serious action from his fellow owners.

Washington’s football team has been investigated by Congress for their workplace culture, which included sexual harassment allegations. Congress has also investigated the NFL’s involvement in the situation.

On Thursday, we learned that the investigation into the Commanders has also taken a turn towards their financial accounting. Now we have some information regarding a specific allegation.

Saturday, Front Office Sports reported that one of the accounting allegations made against the team is that the Commanders withheld ticket revenue from the NFL.

NFL bylaws state that teams are supposed to pass 40 percent of ticket revenue (minus ticket handling charges and taxes) to the league. The money is then dispersed to visiting teams.

The 40 percent share from ticket revenues are the only local revenue that is shared among the league’s teams. That money not only is shared by the teams in the league, but it also factors into the NFL’s revenue pie, of which players get a portion (via the salary cap).

Washington has denied committing any accounting impropriety.

“The team categorically denies any suggestion of financial impropriety of any kind at any time. We adhere to strict internal processes that are consistent with industry and accounting standards, are audited annually by a globally respected independent auditing firm, and are also subject to regular audits by the NFL. We continue to cooperate fully with the Committee’s work,” a team spokesperson said in a statement to the Washington Post.

Snyder has survived the sexual harassment scandal, backlash over the team’s nickname, and much more over his rocky ownership tenure since 1999. But if it’s determined that he was pocketing more money than he should have been — effectively stealing from the other owners and players — that might be the final straw to get him voted out as an owner.

Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Second grand jury announces Deshaun Watson decision

Deshaun Watson at the Pro Bowl

Deshaun Watson was investigated by a second grand jury in Texas over a sexual assault complaint, and the end result was the same for the star quarterback.

A grand jury in Brazoria County, Texas, on Thursday declined to indict Watson. The Cleveland Browns star will not face criminal charges in that case, either.

The allegation of sexual misconduct from a massage therapist was not new. Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin explained earlier Thursday that the other nine criminal complaints were handled in Harris County. The 10th complaint stemmed from an alleged incident that took place in Brazoria County. Hardin said the Brazoria County district attorney waited until the Harris County grand jury handed down its decision before proceeding.

Watson is still facing civil lawsuits from 22 women. The criminal complaints were the most concerning for NFL teams, which is why the trade talks surrounding Watson heated up after a grand jury declined to indict him on the nine previous allegations.

The NFL is also conducting its own investigation into the allegations against Watson. It’s possible — if not likely — that the 26-year-old will be suspended. The Browns appear to have structured Watson’s contract in a way that will protect him if that happens.

Photo: Jan 23, 2020; Kissimmee, Florida, USA; Houston Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson (4) during AFC practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson still awaiting another grand jury decision in Texas

Deshaun Watson in the rain

The Deshaun Watson sweepstakes caught fire last after a grand jury in Texas declined to indict him on nine allegations of sexual misconduct, but the star quarterback is not out of the woods just yet.

Watson is still awaiting another grand jury decision in Texas. The allegation of sexual misconduct from a massage therapist is not new, Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin explained on Thursday. The other nine were handled in Harris County, but the 10th complaint stems from an alleged incident that took place in Brazoria County. Hardin said the Brazoria County district attorney waited until the Harris County grand jury handed down its decision before proceeding.

A courthouse official said a decision is expected by Thursday or Friday, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network.

“This is a year-old allegation,” Hardin said. “We knew about it, the Browns knew about it. It is not something we were surprised by. Deshaun is going to be the Browns quarterback this year.”

Watson is still facing civil lawsuits from 22 women. The criminal complaints were the most concerning for NFL teams, which is why the trade talks surrounding Watson heated up after a grand jury declined to indict him on the nine previous allegations.

The NFL is also conducting its own investigation into the allegations against Watson. It’s possible — if not likely — that the 26-year-old will be suspended. The Browns appear to have structured Watson’s contract in a way that will protect him if that happens.

Photo: Jan 27, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; AFC quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) in the NFL Pro Bowl football game at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ray Allen blasted by judge for skipping jury duty

Ray Allen at a press conference

Ray Allen was ordered to pay a fine this week after he failed to show up for jury duty, and the judge who handed down the penalty was not pleased with the Hall of Famer.

Allen was ordered to appear in a Miami courtroom on Wednesday after he skipped jury duty last week. The 46-year-old was selected as one of 14 permanent and alternate jurors in a deadly carjacking case. The trial was initially scheduled to begin on March 14, but Allen asked the judge if it could begin the following day since he had to attend Kevin Garnett’s jersey retirement ceremony in Boston. The request was granted, according to the Miami Herald.

Even with the trial being changed at his request, Allen still did not show. U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke issued a show-cause order after repeated attempts to reach Allen.

“Through his actions in failing to appear for jury duty, Mr. Allen appears to not appreciate or understand the importance of jury service. The right to a trial by jury is sacrosanct,” Cooke wrote in the order. “However, the right to trial by jury can only be preserved if those who are chosen to serve on a jury actually fulfill their obligation to serve.”

Allen’s attorney said on Wednesday that Allen’s absence “was a complete misunderstanding.” Cooke scolded Allen and said “no man or woman is above performing that civic duty.” She ordered Allen to pay $1,000 to the charity of his choice.

The trial ended on Tuesday with a South Florida man being found guilty of fatally shooting another man during a carjacking.

Photo: Mar 31, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; Former basketball player Ray Allen speaks during the NBA Hall of Fame press conference at the Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

US government offers update on Brittney Griner situation in Russia

Brittney Griner smiles

Brittney Griner is still detained in Russia as she awaits trial for an alleged drug arrest, but the United States government has offered a somewhat positive update in her case.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told CNN that US Embassy officials in Russia were granted access to Griner on Wednesday morning. He said he can’t get into much detail but that the WNBA star is “in good condition.”

Griner has been detained in Moscow for over a month. She was taken into custody on Feb. 17 after authorities allegedly found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. She is said to be facing up to 10 years in prison.

Russian state news reported recently that Griner’s pre-trial detention had been extended until May 19. Per the country’s laws, Griner can be held a lot longer than that before facing trial.

Griner, 31, and other WNBA players play in Russia during the offseason. All of the others have since left the country amid the ongoing feud between Russia and Ukraine.

Russian state media last week released the first known photo of Griner since she was arrested.

Photo: Mar 12, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner in attendance of the Phoenix Suns game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Demaryius Thomas’ home broken into months after his death

Demaryius Thomas points his finger

Former NFL wide receiver Demaryius Thomas died back in December, and his family now has to deal with some unfortunate legal issues in addition to the tragedy.

According to a police report obtained by WGXA-TV in Atlanta, a former Georgia deputy was among those who were arrested after they allegedly broke into Thomas’ home on March 13. Police were called to the home in Roswell, Ga., and said the man who answered the door refused to give any information about why he was there.

Police found at least seven other people in the house. There was also a gun, gun magazine and marijuana. One of the people in the house was former Bibb County deputy Vashone Hakeem Jones. Jones resigned in 2019 after he was charged with theft and card fraud.

A woman who was with Jones told police she met him the night before at a nightclub and he invited her back to the home. Jones told police that he used to live at the home and helped Thomas with his medical issues. He claimed he visits the home on weekends to check on it.

Thomas’ mother told police that no one had permission to use the home. She also said several items were stolen, including an ESPY Award, jersey autographed by Tom Brady, several firearms and a hyperbaric chamber that contained thousands of dollars.

Thomas was found dead at his home more than three months ago. He was 33. The former Denver Broncos star’s family told police that he had been suffering from seizures.

Photo: Nov 6, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) points to the crowd before the start of the game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Drug kingpin wanted David Ortiz dead

David Ortiz in sunglasses

David Ortiz was targeted and shot in 2019 while out in his native Dominican Republic and has received different answers regarding the motivation for the incident. Now he has been told something else that conflicts what Dominican prosecutors said.

Initial reports said Ortiz was shot during a robbery attempt. However, that story quickly went away. Later, Dominican officials said some people were paid to carry out a hit on Ortiz. Dominican prosecutors later said people were targeting Ortiz’s friend, whom they claimed was an informant, and that Ortiz was shot accidentally.

Separately, a report from the Daily Mail said that a drug lord hired some men to kill Ortiz because he was upset with the ballplayer having an affair with his wife or girlfriend.

Ortiz was dissatisfied with the apparent mixed messages and hired his own private investigators to come up with answers. The private investigators, comprised of former Boston police commissioner Ed Davis and former CIA official Ric Prado, shared their findings with the former Red Sox slugger. The findings of their investigation were published by The Boston Globe on Saturday.

Davis told The Boston Globe that his findings indicated drug kingpin Cesar Peralta put out a bounty on Ortiz and wanted the ballplayer killed.

“I accept what Ed and Ric are telling me, but how come no one in the Dominican justice system has told me this is how it went down?” Ortiz told The Globe. “Instead, it’s the opposite.”

Ortiz said he hired the private investigation in 2019 because he did not trust the Dominican Republic’s attorney general at the time. The former attorney general has since been jailed on public corruption charges unrelated to Peralta.

Ortiz denied the allegation that he had romantic involvement with a woman linked to Peralta.

Peralta was extradited to Puerto Rico in December 2021. 13 suspects are awaiting trial in the case.

Ortiz, who was recently elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, underwent four surgeries following the shooting. The 46-year-old has recovered and now travels with security.

Photo: Jul 11, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox former player David Ortiz is interviewed before the 2017 MLB All-Star Game at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Big Baby Davis was in violation of bail during viral moment at Nets-Celtics game

Glen Davis during a Clippers game

Glen “Big Baby” Davis went viral during a recent NBA game when he got caught sitting in the wrong seats, but it sounds like he was already in much bigger trouble when the entertaining moment took place.

Davis, who used to play for the Celtics and won a championship with them in 2008, attended Boston’s home game against the New York Nets on Sunday, March 6. Near the end of the third quarter, the ABC broadcast happened to show him right at the moment he was getting kicked out of another fan’s courtside seat. You can see the video here.

The internet enjoyed it, but Davis’ legal representatives probably did not. Davis was supposed to appear as a guest on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston’s “Toucher and Rich Show” on Friday morning. He had to cancel due to a court hearing. Host Rich Shertenlieb made the connection that the court appearance stemmed from Davis violating the terms of his bail with his trip to Boston two weeks ago.

Davis was back in Boston last weekend for the Celtics’ game against the Dallas Mavericks. He has been doing stand-up comedy and has multiple shows scheduled in Massachusetts in the coming weeks.

Davis is one of several former NBA players who were arrested on fraud charges last year. He also faced legal trouble a few years back after he allegedly attacked a man in a parking lot. Big Baby is no stranger to the inside of a courtroom.

Photo: Sep 29, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Glen Davis (0) during media day at the team training facility in Playa Vista. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson suing team over his firing

Donnie Nelson

The relationship between the Dallas Mavericks and former general manager Donnie Nelson has taken another ugly turn.

ESPN’s Don Van Natta reported on Thursday that Nelson has filed a lawsuit against the team. Nelson is alleging that Mavs owner Mark Cuban fired him in 2020 as retaliation for reporting a sexual harassment incident. Nelson claims that his nephew was sexually harassed and sexually assaulted by Cuban’s chief of staff, Jason Lutin, during a job interview in 2020.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Dallas County court, further describes Lutin as Cuban’s right-hand man and alleges the incident with Nelson’s nephew took place in a Chicago hotel room during All-Star Weekend in 2020.

Cuban sent an email to ESPN denying the claims made in Nelson’s lawsuit.

“Everything in that filing is a lie,” Cuban said. “We did multiple complete investigations and the only person that did not live up to the standards of the Dallas Mavericks was Mr. Nelson. He was fired as a result. He was well aware of the investigation. He refused to fully participate. I will say it again, everything he said is a lie.”

Lutin also sent a separate email to ESPN saying that the allegations were “a complete lie.”

You can read more details about the lawsuit and about the alleged incident between Lutin and Nelson’s nephew in Van Natta’s full article here.

Lutin is not listed on the Mavericks’ staff directory for this season but was listed as “Chief of Staff to Owner” as recently as the 2019-20 NBA season.

As for Nelson, the son of former Dallas coach Don Nelson, he was employed by the Mavs for 24 seasons in total, culminating with a promotion to head of basketball operations. He had a successful tenure with the team, including an NBA title in 2011 and the draft-day trade for current franchise star Luka Doncic in 2018. But Nelson was let go last summer (allegedly for a different reason than reporting the alleged sexual harassment incident). He has also had some bitter moments with the Mavs since his firing.

Nelson’s lawsuit feels like deja vu all over again for the Mavs. A few years ago, they got punished by the NBA for an allegedly toxic and uncomfortable workplace environment, also involving claims of sexual harassment.

Photo: Jerome Miron-USA Today Sports