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Subpoenas are on their way to 72 ‘Canes who benefited from Ponzi-scheming booster

A new sign in the Edgerrin James Room in Miami's athletic complex, courtesy of @Manny_Navarro

As the old saying goes, there's no such thing as a free lunch. For the 72 current and former Miami players accused of accepting improper benefits from ex-Hurricane booster turned convicted Ponzi-schemer Nevin Shapiro over the last decade, the maxim is about to be amended to no such thing as a free lunch, dinner, yacht ride, lap dance, prostitute, VIP room or bowling party.

If victims of Shapiro's fraud get their way, according to the Miami Herald, the players will be legally compelled to play it all back:

Seventy-two former or current UM football players who are alleged to have received cash, gifts, meals or other benefits from convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro soon will receive a subpoena from a bankruptcy trustee seeking to recoup anything they received of real value, one of the lawyers said Monday.

Attorney Gary Freedman, who represents bankruptcy trustee Joel Tabas, warned Monday there would be consequences for players who do not cooperate.

"They can't ignore it — it's a subpoena issued by a bankruptcy court," Freedman said. "If they ignore it, we will seek an order from the court to compel them to respond. If they don't respond, they will face a contempt order."

Each of the 72 players in question will receive a cover letter from Freedman explaining the situation, as well as a subpoena asking them to document any gifts or benefits they received and an affidavit. The bankruptcy trustee can also request players to appear in depositions and can file lawsuits against them if they fail to cooperate, and a bankruptcy judge can impose monetary sanctions or have them taken into custody. "If an athlete gives misinformation," Freedman said, "it would be considered perjury."

Subpoenas are on their way to 72 ‘Canes who benefited from Ponzi-scheming boosterAnd in case it has to be said (this being the Internet, it almost certainly does), the claims aren't being brought by some lol haterz: Freedman described himself as "a big fan" of the Hurricanes, and said his client is a UM alum. He was also clear that "we have done our due diligence" to confirm allegations in the Yahoo! report. "We have books and records that show some of the transfers," Freedman told the Herald. "Our records reflect what Shapiro has indicated to Yahoo! I have no reason to doubt what Nevin has been saying."

The single largest allegation in the report, dollar-wise, is Shapiro's claim that he paid ex-Cane Vince Wilfork $50,000 to secure his commitment to Shapiro's fledgling agency, Axcess Sports, which eventually signed Wilfork and negotiated his first NFL contract with the New England Patriots. Lawyers may also go after a $5,000 interest-free loan Shapiro says he paid to former UM assistant Clint Hurtt, though Shapiro also said Hurtt paid him back in full. The rest — such as the assorted food, VIP access, strip club visits and other "entertainment" allegedly provided to at least a dozen current players — could add up to the tens or possibly hundreds of thousands.

In the big picture, that's a drop in the bucket compared to the $19 million in mishandled investor funds already recovered from Shapiro's sprawling web of deceit, which is itself only a fraction of the $111 million the bankruptcy trustee is seeking altogether. But every little bit helps.

Oh, and I'm sure the NCAA won't mind having the benefit of a little subpoena power in an ongoing investigation, for a change.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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