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#pounditThursday, October 6, 2022

Legal Matters

Judge makes key ruling in Henry Ruggs case

Henry Ruggs with the Raiders

Dec 13, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (11) against the Indianapolis Colts at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Henry Ruggs appeared in court on Tuesday for a hearing related to the fatal crash he was allegedly responsible for last year, and a judge made a key ruling that did not go in his favor.

Las Vegas judge Ann Zimmerman ruled that blood-alcohol tests will be permitted as evidence in Ruggs’ case. The former Las Vegas Raiders star’s legal team had argued that there was no probable cause for the search warrant that required Ruggs to submit to having his blood drawn after the car accident that killed 23-year-old Tina Tintor last November.

Zimmerman disagreed. The judge said there was “more than sufficient evidence” for the search warrant.

“Nobody has mentioned so far that Mr. Ruggs was seriously injured in this accident and transported to the hospital, so he would have been unable to submit to field sobriety tests,” Zimmerman said in court, according to “Coupled with his refusal to answer questions, this does not result in a reward. … Motion to suppress is denied.”

Ruggs’ blood was drawn roughly two hours after the fatal crash near the Las Vegas Strip. His blood-alcohol content was 0.16, which is twice the legal limit in the state of Nevada.

Police say Ruggs was driving 156 mph and intoxicated when he lost control of his Corvette and slammed into a Toyota RAV4. The Toyota caught fire, killing Tintor and her dog.

Ruggs has been charged with multiple felonies, including driving under the influence resulting in death and reckless driving.

A chilling video that was released after the accident helped show just how fast Ruggs was traveling in his Corvette.

Ruggs’ attorneys have argued that local firefighters are responsible for the death of Tintor.

Reason Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to Russian drug charge revealed

Brittney Griner smiles

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

Brittney Griner pleaded guilty on Thursday to drug charges in Russia, but she told the criminal court that she did not intentionally break any laws.

Griner told the court that she had “inadvertently” packed vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage when she was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Feb. 17

“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” Griner said.

Griner is facing up to 10 years in prison, but ESPN’s TJ Quinn reports that the guilty plea was a strategy to help facilitate a prisoner swap to potentially get the WNBA star home to the United States. It was also Griner’s way of acknowledging that she has virtually no chance of being acquitted.

The guilty plea will not end Griner’s trial. Under Russian law, a judge continues to read the full case file into the record after a guilty plea. Proceedings following a guilty plea can still drag on for weeks or months.

U.S. officials have described Griner’s trial as “theater” and believe a guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion. Eventually, the U.S. and Russia are expected to reach a deal to release one or more Russians who are in U.S. custody in exchange for Griner’s release. Quinn notes that Griner would almost certainly have to admit guilt in order for such a deal to be facilitated, which is likely why she pleaded guilty.

Earlier this week, Griner’s coach sounded off over the 31-year-old’s detainment.

Attorney for Montrezl Harrell responds to drug trafficking allegation

Montrezl Harrell looking on

Feb 12, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets center Montrezl Harrell (8) during pregame warm ups before the start between the Charlotte Hornets and the Memphis Grizzlies at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The attorneys for Montrezl Harrell have responded to the drug trafficking allegation the NBA player is facing.

Harrell was cited in May following a traffic stop in Kentucky. He was subsequently charged with felony drug trafficking.

Harrell claimed to have been driving a rental car in which police found “three pounds of marijuana in vacuum sealed bags” in a backpack in the back seat while conducting a search.

Harrell’s attorneys say the 28-year-old did nothing wrong.

“We want to be clear that Mr. Harrell was not driving the vehicle and following the stop he was only given a ticket to appear in court at a later date for a marijuana-related charge as were all occupants of the vehicle,” Harrell’s attorneys said, via TMZ Sports.

“Mr. Harrell was never placed under arrest. We believe that there are legal and factual issues with this case that will be addressed in court, if that becomes necessary.”

The attorneys also said Harrell has “never been a part of any form of marijuana trafficking or any other illegal activity.”

Harrell was born in Tarboro, N.C. and played college ball at Louisville. The big man won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2019-2020. He was drafted by the Houston Rockets in the second round in 2015 and has averaged 12.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game during his career.

Major development announced in Deshaun Watson scandal

Deshaun Watson on the practice field

Jun 14, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) runs a play during minicamp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Two dozen women have filed sexual assault lawsuits against Deshaun Watson, and the Cleveland Browns star has now reached settlements with the majority of them.

Tony Buzbee, the attorney who represents all of the massage therapists who have sued Watson, revealed on Tuesday that 20 of 24 alleged victims have settled with the quarterback. Buzbee emphasized that Ashley Solis, the first woman who came forward with allegations against Watson, has not agreed to a settlement.

Buzbee said the terms of the settlements will not be disclosed. The accusers likely signed nondisclosure agreements in exchange for receiving money from Watson.

Solis was the first massage therapist to go public with a claim against Watson. She accused Watson of intentionally touching her with his penis during a session on March 30, 2020. Solis said last year and during her deposition that Watson’s actions caused her to feel frightened and cry. Watson admitted during his recent deposition in the case that his massage session with Solis ended with her crying and that he later apologized via text message.

The NFL is said to be nearing the end of its investigation into the claims against Watson. A recent report indicated the 26-year-old could be facing a lengthy suspension.

Chargers owner Dean Spanos sued by sister

Dean Spanos looking ahead

Dec 16, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos looks on during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos was sued by his sister, Dea Spanos Berberian, on Thursday.

The lawsuit, filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court, accuses Spanos of “misogynistic” behavior, “self-dealing,” and repeated “breaches of fiduciary duty,” according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Kimberley Martin. With the suit, Berberian wants to remove Spanos as a co-trustee of the family trust that has an ownership stake in the Chargers of over one-third. Berberian wants full control of the family trust, in addition to financial damages.

Dean Spanos, Berberian, and their siblings Michael Spanos and Alexandra Spanos Ruhl each own 15 percent of the Chargers franchise. Spanos and Berberian were left as co-trustees of the trust following the deaths of Alex Spanos, who bought the franchise in 1984, and his wife, Faye Spanos, in 2018. Dean Spanos has run the franchise since 1994.

Berberian accuses her brothers of acting “out of their deeply-held misogynistic attitudes and sense of entitlement as the men in the family” to rationalize their pitiable behavior that she believes is intended to teach her that a woman has no rights.

The suit also alleges that Dean Spanos committed “breaches of fiduciary duty” including diverting $105 million from the trust to various debts, and manipulating the trust to borrow over $60 million.

On Friday, the families of Dean Spanos, Alexis Spanos Ruhl and Michael Spanos, as well as Ruhl herself, released statements of unity against Berberian.

Last year, Berberian filed a petition in Los Angeles County Court alleging that the trust was in debt, and that the only way to pay it off was to sell the team.

Angelos brothers fighting over control of Orioles

Louis Angelos looking ahead

Apr 6, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles executive Louis Angelos attends the pregame ceremony for Frank Robinson before the start of the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles ownership is in the middle of a legal battle over control of the team.

According to a new lawsuit obtained by The Baltimore Banner, Louis Angelos, the son of current team owner Peter Angelos, sued his brother and his mother on Thursday. The suit alleges that Louis’ brother, John Angelos, has taken full control of the team despite their father intending for both sons to have equal control. The suit also claims that Louis’ mother, Georgia Angelos, has wanted to sell the team.

Peter Angelos suffered a failure of his aortic heart valve in 2017, and established a trust fund for his wife and two sons as co-trustees.

Louis Angelos’ attorneys said in a statement that the purpose of the lawsuit is to make sure that his father’s wishes of an equal share of control upon creating the trust is fulfilled amid allegations that John Angelos has been secretly going against his father’s wishes.

John Angelos has served as the Orioles’ vice president since 2020 after being approved by other MLB owners to be the team’s “control person.”

Peter Angelos was the lead investor of a group that purchased the Orioles in 1993 for a $173 million. Today, the team is valued at over $1 billion.

Louis Angelos is asking a Baltimore County Circuit judge to issue an injunction to block his brother from conducting negotiations to sell the Orioles and from taking any action on the family trust. One of Louis’ accusations is that John would like to move the team to Tennessee, where John lives.

While the team’s lease at Orioles Park ends after 2023, there are no allegations in the lawsuit indicating that any actual steps to sell the team have taken place.

For more details on the lawsuit, you can visit The Baltimore Banner.

Rusty Hardin issues statement about baffling radio comment

Rusty Hardin near the media

Oct 8, 2014; Conroe, TX, USA; The attorney Rusty Hardin at the Montgomery county courthouse for the arraignment of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (not pictured). Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin issued a statement on Friday after drawing negative attention for his “happy endings” comment in a radio interview earlier in the day.

Hardin, who is Watson’s lead attorney defending him against allegations of sexual misconduct from 23 women, joined Seth Payne and Sean Pendergast on Sports Radio 610 in Houston Friday. Hardin talked about Watson’s case and made some baffling comments.

Hardin said he wanted to remind those listening that people getting happy endings at the end of massages are not engaging in unlawful activity (full comments here).

Hardin said that unless a payment is exchanged for the sexual favor, then the act is not breaking a law, so long as the activity is consensual. Watson’s legal team has said any sexual activity Watson had with his masseuses after massages was consensual.

The obvious problem is that those who are paying for a massage that includes a sexual favor at the end are breaking the law. So if Watson — or anyone — were paying for massages with the expectation of receiving sexual favors, then he would have been engaging in illegal activity.

Hardin drew so much negative attention over his comments that he issued a statement later on Friday.

“Deshaun Watson did nothing wrong,” said a statement sent to Larry Brown Sports and other outlets. “And as two grand juries have made clear, Deshaun did nothing illegal. Deshaun has always acknowledged consensual sexual activity with three of the plaintiff massage therapists after massages. And Deshaun has repeatedly sworn under oath that he did not force any of his accusers to have sexual contact.

“On a Houston radio show interview today, I mentioned that a massage that has a ‘happy ending’ is not illegal, meaning it is not illegal for someone to have consensual sex with a therapist after a massage unless the sex is for pay. Deshaun did not pay anyone for sex. I was using the term hypothetically and not describing Deshaun’s case.

“I have reiterated to others it’s not ok to do anything that a woman does not agree to do. These women have alleged assault in their pleadings. I was speaking in a hypothetical situation. If there is a consensual sexual encounter after a massage, that is not a crime nor the basis for a civil lawsuit. I was not talking about what Deshaun did or did not do or expected or did not expect.”

Watson was investigated by two grand juries in Texas, which both declined to indict him. The Cleveland Browns quarterback is facing 23 lawsuits. We recently learned the price for which he tried to settle the suits.

Price Deshaun Watson offered to settle his lawsuits revealed

Deshaun Watson at a press conference

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with the media during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson has maintained that he did nothing wrong despite nearly two dozen women accusing him of sexual assault, but the Cleveland Browns star has still tried to settle with some of his accusers. We now have a better idea of what he offered them to drop their lawsuits.

Another lawsuit was filed against Watson on Tuesday, which makes 23 total. One of the footnotes in the latest suit mentions how Watson’s camp offered each of the plaintiffs $100,000 to settle.

That is consistent with what we heard earlier this year. One publication obtained a copy of a settlement offer that Watson supposedly sent to one of the women who is suing him. Watson offered $100,000, with the proposed agreement saying the alleged victim would have to adhere to a strict confidentiality agreement.

Two grand juries in Texas have declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson. The NFL is now investigating the allegations to determine if the star quarterback will face disciplinary action. The civil lawsuits could eventually be tried in front of juries if there are no settlements.

Decision reached in case related to Jerry Jeudy’s recent arrest

Jerry Jeudy without a helmet

Aug 21, 2020; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (10) during training camp at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Jeudy was arrested in Colorado early this month on what initially sounded like troubling charges, but the Denver Broncos star is not going to be convicted of anything.

The district attorney in Arapahoe County moved to dismiss all charges against Jeudy ahead of Tuesday’s scheduled hearing. Jeudy’s attorney said that was the expected outcome for the wide receiver all along.

Jeudy was arrested on May 12 and had faced two non-physical contact domestic violence charges. He was allegedly involved in an incident with the mother of his 1-month-old daughter. Jeudy was accused of withholding the baby’s car seat and medical records, as well as the woman’s wallet. The domestic violence portion of the charges was only due to his relationship with the person who made the allegations.

The alleged victim defended Jeudy in court and said he never made physical contact with her and she never felt threatened in any way.

Jeudy, 23, is entering his third NFL season. He was limited to 10 games last season due to an ankle injury he suffered early in the year.

Resolution reached in Von Miller explicit photo lawsuit

Von Miller before a game

Jun 1, 2021; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) during organized team activities at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Von Miller was sued last month by a woman who claims the Buffalo Bills star distributed a sexually explicit photo of her without her permission, and a resolution has been reached in the case.

According to court documents obtained by TMZ, the revenge porn lawsuit was dismissed on Wednesday. The woman who filed the suit was seeking “monetary damages.” It is possible some sort of settlement was reached.

The lawsuit claimed that Miller and a woman he dated in 2020 took photos together while engaging in sex acts. The two agreed that the photos would never be shared with anyone else, but the woman alleges that Miller shared one of the photos with “two well-known celebrities.” She said he did so while “in a fit of jealousy, anger, and rage.”

Miller was accused of sending the photo to two different people minutes apart on May 7, 2020. He allegedly wrote, “This the b–ch you want?” in two different messages along with the photo. You can read more details about the allegations here.

Miller, 33, was on the other side of a legal situation involving sexually explicit material several years ago.

Miller helped the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl last season after they acquired him in a trade with the Denver Broncos. He signed a six-year, $120 million deal with the Bills earlier this offseason.