Three NFL agents and a financial adviser told Yahoo Sports they provided money to former Alabama defensive end Luther Davis during a period when Davis was providing benefits to Southeastern Conference football players.
Among them were agents Andy Simms, Peter Schaffer and John Phillips, as well as financial adviser Mike Rowan. Simms, Phillips and Rowan confirmed Davis was a point of contact in their efforts to recruit at least one college player – and in some cases several players – who were expected to be selected in the NFL draft. However, Simms, Schaffer and Rowan said that while they provided money to Davis, they were not aware of his financial dealings, nor did they instruct him to provide impermissible benefits to players. Phillips declined to discuss specifics about any financial transactions.
A Yahoo Sports investigation found that Davis provided benefits to at least five players during their collegiate careers, including Crimson Tide offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, University of Tennessee defensive lineman Maurice Couch, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, Mississippi State University wideout Chad Bumphis and Mississippi State defensive end Fletcher Cox. A sixth player – Crimson Tide safety Mark Barron – was also discussed in text message records obtained by Yahoo Sports, including an exchange following the 2011 season where Davis and Simms talk of attempting to recoup $8,000 from the player. At the time of the texts, Barron was a junior and preparing to leave Alabama as an early entry into the NFL draft. Text messages also reference Alabama defensive tackle Josh Chapman and Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks.
Davis declined comment for this story.
Simms, Phillips and Rowan were identified in financial and text message records turned over to Yahoo Sports by a source alleging Davis was an intermediary between agents, advisers and SEC football players. Schaffer was identified in bank records linked to Davis. Financial advisers Hodge Brahmbhatt and Jason Jernigan were also identified in monetary transactions with Davis. Jernigan declined comment. Brahmbhatt, through his attorney, confirmed giving money to Davis, but said he had no knowledge of, and did not instruct Davis to provide benefits to players.
All told, Yahoo Sports found that three agents (Simms, Schaffer and Phillips) and three financial advisers (Rowan, Jernigan and Hodge Brahmbhatt) moved at least $45,550 to Davis between September 2011 and December 2012. During this period, records authenticated by Yahoo Sports also showed Davis doled out at least $12,700 in benefits to the five players. Text messages and email exchanges turned over to Yahoo Sports also discuss more than $40,000 in additional benefits allegedly tied to some of the players and their family members.
[Yahoo Sports exclusive: View all investigation documents]
When contacted by Yahoo Sports, Simms, Schaffer, Phillips and Rowan each independently said Davis had expressed a desire to be a manager or "concierge" for NFL players, and had offered to put them in touch with potential NFL draft picks. A defensive end at Alabama from 2007-10, Davis was an undrafted rookie free agent with the Buffalo Bills during the 2011 preseason but failed to make the team.
Among those who appeared in financial records linked to Davis:
NFL agent Andy Simms, Players Rep Sports Management
Simms told Yahoo Sports he signed Davis as a client in the summer of 2011, after Davis had fired agent Jeff Guerriero and gone unselected in that year's NFL draft. Following Davis' release by the Bills in the 2011 preseason, Simms said the player offered to be a point of contact in the recruitment of multiple college football players in 2011 – notably Crimson Tide safety Mark Barron and Mississippi State defensive end Fletcher Cox. Simms said he engaged Davis in hopes of landing potential draft picks, but denied ever instructing Davis to deliver impermissible benefits to college football players.
Yahoo Sports found six Western Union fund transfers from Simms to Davis totaling $5,000 between Sept. 23, 2011 and Jan. 3, 2012. Simms said the monies were loans for rent, and that he did not know if Davis was passing the funds to college football players. Simms said Davis has not repaid the loans.
"He would ask for money," Simms said. "He says he helps out his friends – he's using some for rent or this or that. I basically said to him 'Listen, if you need money for rent or you need money to live off of, or you need money to do whatever you're doing, I'm glad to help you out.' Whatever he did with the money, he did with the money. If he said he had to pay back somebody or pay back [Mark] Barron, or pay back another player or whatever he wanted to do with it, that was up to him."
Yahoo Sports reviewed text messages between Simms and a phone number belonging to Davis. While reading the messages to Simms in chronological order, he was asked to provide context for the exchanges. Among those exchanges:
• Nov. 9, 2011 – A text message from Simms to a phone number tied to Davis: "900 sent. Confirmation is [confirmation number redacted by Yahoo Sports]. Keep 400 and give mb the other 500."
Simms' explanation: "I could tell you that I don't know for sure what he was doing with the money. But if he told me he needed money and he needed to make payments to the players to either pay them back for whatever he was doing or whatever he needed the money for – I mean, I wasn't trying to tell him how to spend his money, more than, hey, this is what he said he needed it for. He needs a loan from me, that's the loan. It wasn't for recruiting, though. It wasn't for him – I hate how this stuff makes me look, to be honest. It's really – it's hard. But I will tell you that if I'm giving a client a loan, it's up to him for what he needs it for."
• Dec. 5, 2011 – A text message exchange between Simms and a phone number tied to Davis:
Simms: "Sent 900. [Confirmation number redacted by Yahoo Sports]. For this amount I hope he knows he is going with us. You know the drill."
Phone number tied to Davis: "Hell yea, or ill send my boys to Starkville ;)"
Simms: "Lol. That's right!"
Simms' explanation: "I can't even speculate on what that was. I don't remember. I can't account for his response about Starkville. I don't know."
Asked if these texts showed Simms was using Davis to secure Mark Barron or Fletcher Cox (who played at Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss.), Simms said:
"I would tell you that I didn't know for sure where the money was going. I had a client asking for a loan. I understood that he was in touch with these guys [Barron and Cox]. I can't deny that I knew he was in touch with these guys. But there was a lot of things that were said in jest, and there is a lot of things that a text can take out of context."
• Dec. 9, 2011 – Back-to-back text messages from Simms to a phone number tied to Davis: "Hey man. Few thoughts. Frank mentioned mtgs a week from now. Could use your help. Also – chap and Barron. Can u get them to chat with me. I know it ain't easy. …Thanks for everything. It will pay off in 4 weeks!!!"
Simms' explanation: "There's no denying I was recruiting those guys and he was putting in a reference and these were his friends. I think it was just me asking him what was going on with these guys [Josh Chapman and Mark Barron]. Luther was a client who was trying to help us recruit these guys. So doing that, I would ask him if he could help, sure."
• Dec. 18, 2011 – A text message exchange between Simms and a phone number tied to Davis:
Simms: "Tell cox to sync his iPhone to iTunes now that he has deleted the text messages. That permanently deletes them everywhere."
Phone number tied to Davis: "Ok will do"
Simms: "Luther give me a quick call"
Simms: "We need to know what kind of phone banks has. If he has a sim card in it he CANNOT hand that over. Call me asap."
Simms: "Remind cox and banks to both hit me up so we can square our story. Cox is gonna be asked about his communication with us. We need consistency."
Simms' explanation: "There had been some contact, just phone calls, with those guys [Fletcher Cox and Johnthan Banks]. And at that point, we didn't know if they were … I was unaware of the Mississippi [agent] rule, or what the rules were as far as contacting them at all. And I didn't want them to get into trouble with their coaches or obviously me to get in trouble if I realized that I shouldn't have been in any phone contact with them at all at that point. I was trying to be safe as far as if I made a phone call that I shouldn't have. I didn't want either one of us to get in trouble with a text or a phone call."
• Feb. 10, 2012 – A text message exchange between Simms and a phone number tied to Davis:
Simms: "I am sending out the money transfers today. And along those same lines – what's the plan to get the $8000 back from mb?"
Phone number tied to Davis: "Honestly don't know, what do you recommend?"
Simms: "Probably just be normal and direct. Ask him if he is payin the $8000 back now. Or when. We're not upset –– Tell him to do the right thing. I think he will. It wasn't a gift. We helped him because he needed it and asked for it. We trusted him because he was your dude. Caa [sic] is giving him plenty of $. We know that."
Representatives of Mark Barron said the player had no comment. At the time of Simms' text, Barron had already decided to leave Alabama and had signed with CAA.
Simms' explanation: "I can't be sure what the conversation from that point was. Obviously I was advising Luther on getting whatever money he loaned him [Barron] back. I'm certainly never insinuating that we gave him $8,000 – because I know that didn't happen. I'm simply saying there's money that went back and forth between Luther and teammates and 'How are you going to handle that?' And I think he was asking me, and I was saying 'I don't know how you handle it. You've got to get your money. Ask him to give it back.'"
• Feb. 10, 2012 – A continuation of the text message exchange between Simms and a phone number tied to Davis:
Simms: "I will give you 25% of what he pays back. if he pays the full 8000 – I will give you 2000 of it."
Phone number tied to Davis: "I agree, I will reach out to him right now. Because he certainly should do the right thing for a change."
Simms' explanation: "Ok. I don't – I can't really respond. I don't really remember. I feel like if I'm giving an explanation, it's not based off of what I remember."
• Feb. 23, 2012 – A text message exchange between Simms and a phone number tied to Davis:
Simms: "I am hearing that people have a copy of my check to Barron for 100 grand? What did you do with that?"
Phone number tied to Davis: "Rip it up almost two weeks ago. when he said he was going with Sexton. Still have folder of contract if you need it."
Simms: "So nobody has a copy of it? You sure? I gotta cover my ass. People are calling me that there is a copy out there."
Phone number tied to Davis: "Only ppl had access was mark and myself."
Simms: "Did mark have it in his possession for any time or make a copy of it? I'm not worries [sic] about it – people are trying to make a story of it though."
Simms: "pic might have been taken and forwarded? That's all I can think of maybe."
Simms: "Last question and i will let this go – was the pic JUST of the check? Or is it him holding the check?"
Phone number tied to Davis: "One sec will ask"
Phone number tied to Davis: "He said just of the check"
Simms: "Thanks. Tell him I wish him good luck. No hard feelings. It's a business."
Simms' explanation: "Again, all of my communication with these guys is through Luther. And I think at the very end, basically Luther says to me, 'Hey, if you do $100,000 in marketing and show him you're serious, I think he may go with you. In which case, Mark Barron – this is what, a couple weeks after the season or whenever it was – so I sent the check and a copy of the SRA to Luther, who was going to run it over to his house for me, since I was not in Alabama. And that's pretty much how it went down. Apparently a picture was taken of the check of $100,000 and plenty of people saw it."
NFL agent John Phillips
Phillips – a lawyer and University of Alabama alumnus – told Yahoo Sports in July that he briefly represented Davis during the 2011 NFL draft and also engaged Davis while writing a book on the Crimson Tide's 2009 national championship team. He also said that he gave Davis money for rent and that Davis set up in-person meetings with Marcell Dareus following the 2011 season, and D.J. Fluker during the 2012 season. But Phillips insisted neither Davis nor Fluker asked for money during the Crimson Tide's 2012 national championship run.
"They never asked me for money, either one of them, for D.J. during the season," Phillips said in July. "Luther knew me better than that – that I wouldn't do it because it's a felony. My legal career has always been more important to me."
"There were a few occasions I'd pay [Luther's] rent. But it was never 'Here's $3,000 to go sign, or get someone, or go wine and dine.' "
Financial records turned over to Yahoo Sports included a $10,000 check Phillips made out to Davis on Sept. 28, 2012. The date on the check preceded a 1:45 a.m. meeting on Sept. 30 between Phillips, Fluker and Davis at a La Quinta Inn in Tuscaloosa which was revealed in text message records.
In the text records, Davis notifies Phillips that he is picking up Fluker following Alabama's 33-14 home win over Ole Miss, and bringing him to meet Phillips at his hotel. Following the meeting on Sept. 30, records show that Davis deposited Phillips' $10,000 check on Oct. 1.
Asked about the check in an August interview, Phillips declined to comment, but added:
"On or off [the record] or whatever, I really doubt a dime of any of that ever hit its intended target," Phillips said. "I mean, I think Luther was just hustling."
Asked if the intended target of the check was D.J. Fluker, Phillips said, "Yeah. I mean, whomever."
Phillips also declined to comment on the following text message exchanges:
• Sept. 1, 2012 – A text message exchange between a phone number tied to Phillips and a phone number tied to Davis:
Phone number tied to Phillips: "What will it take to get DJ?"
Phone number tied to Davis: "I know what it'll take but I think you may have too many things going to supply what he needs to be honest."
Phone number tied to Phillips: "Fair. By November/December I can change that. It seems these guys choose because of other reasons anyway and there wasn't one single FA that stuck in NFL that I know of."
• Dec. 21-22, 2012 – A text message exchange between a phone number tied to Phillips and a phone number tied to Davis:
Phone number tied to Phillips: "Where are they?"
Phone number tied to Davis: "Mobile."
Phone number tied to Phillips: "Mobile sucks to fly from. Not sure if they have any easy flights."
Phone number tied to Davis: "For the 6-8 [of January] their [sic] 800+ a pop. What about Pensacola or Bham?"
Phone number tied to Phillips: "Bham might have southwest option. Could they rent a SUV and drive?"
Phone number tied to Davis: "Ok cool will check"
Phone number tied to Phillips: "I don't mind putting a couple thousand to it to make it happen as long as he's in. But don't want to go crazy."
Phone number tied to Davis: "He's all in!"
Phone number tied to Phillips: "It's the airfare and limited flights that is killer. Might even be able to find a limo for less."
Phone number tied to Davis: "So what do you want to do"
Phone number tied to Phillips: "Find out if limo okay. I can get a limo or escalade door to door and We can use it."
Phone number tied to Davis: "To Miami?"
Phone number tied to Phillips: "Yup. If they were going to drive to bham, by the time you add flight issues, it's about the same and not as traceable."
Phone number tied to Davis: "Ok. I'll ask him"
Phone number tied to Phillips: "I just don't want scandal. $4000 in flights likely will cause problems. I've got it set up if they go for it. Tahoe or escalade. How many rooms?"
Phone number tied to Davis: "2"
Phone number tied to Phillips: "Plus yours? Will dj need another after?"
Phone number tied to Davis: "I'm cool on the room will stay with Mike Pouncey"
Phone number tied to Phillips: "Where is he on money?"
Phone number tied to Davis: "1724.68"
Phone number tied to Phillips: "Left? Any idea what he needs/expects going forward? I can put $1500 in Monday and you can book flights. There are rooms near us and clubs that are cheaper great options."
Phone number tied to Davis: "Yes, What hotel"
Phone number tied to Phillips: "We are staying at the Astor. The loft, continental, seagull are all in SoBe blocks from us. Pretty nice."
On Dec. 24, the phone number tied to Davis sent a text to a Regions bank account number to the number tied to Phillips. The number tied to Phillips then texted back "I deposited $2000."
Jade Management financial adviser Hodge Brahmbhatt
Three sources identified Hodge Brahmbhatt as a former financial adviser for Crimson Tide offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, and Davis appears as a middleman in several documents linking the player and adviser. Among the documents linking Davis, Brahmbhatt and Fluker:
• An itinerary showing that a round trip flight was purchased by Davis for a "Danny Jesus Fluker" on Dec. 6, 2012, for a flight on Dec. 9, 2012. The cost was $471.20 and was booked for travel from Pensacola, Fla., to Baltimore, with an evening return scheduled the same day. The offices of Jade Wealth Management and the home of financial adviser Hodge Brahmbhatt are both located roughly 40 miles from Baltimore. Three sources told Yahoo Sports that Brahmbhatt briefly served as a financial adviser for Fluker.
• Documentation showing that on Dec. 12, 2012, Davis received an email with a $3 million Hanleigh Insurance proposal to cover Fluker in case of injury. It listed Fluker's occupation as "Football Player" and listed Nash Brahmbhatt as the individual that requested the proposal. The premium for the policy quote from Hanleigh was listed as $6,283. Nash Brahmbhatt is the brother and partner of Hodge Brahmbhatt at Jade Wealth Management.
The email, which included the Hanleigh insurance document, was sent to Davis on Dec. 12, 2012, from Nash Brahmbhatt, and was copied to Hodge Brahmbhatt and Jade employee Amandeep Basi. It carried the subject line "Insured: D.J. Fluker, Lloyds of London." The attached message to Davis read:
Per our conversation attached is a quote for $3 Million in coverage for DJ until he signs his NFL contract or 8/1/2013, whichever occurs first. I just need a confirmation from DJ via email to bind the coverage so we can have him covered starting tomorrow. He will be covered 24/7 on and off the field.
Give me a call if you have any questions!!!
• Two weeks after that email, on Dec. 26, 2012, Davis' bank records showed a $5,000 deposit. Shortly after the deposit, Davis' phone had the following text exchange with a phone number tied to Fluker, in which there is discussion about a deposit by a "Hodge." From the text exchange:
Phone number tied to Davis (accompanied by a screen shot of a $5,000 deposit into Davis' bank account): "Hodge sent u this"
Phone number tied to Fluker: "What this bro?"
Phone number tied to Davis: "He sent u 5k today."
Phone number tied to Fluker: "To where"
Phone number tied to Davis: "My Wells Fargo acct. do you have a acct with them?"
Phone number tied to Fluker: "I don't"
Phone number tied to Davis: "Who all u bank with?"
Phone number tied to Fluker: "Regions. And compass"
On Dec. 28, 2012, the phone number tied to Davis had another round of text exchanges with the number tied to Fluker. They included:
Phone number tied to Fluker: "Hey I open a account at well Fargo"
Phone number tied to Davis: "Thanks! You just made it easier. Want me to transfer the 5?"
Phone number tied to Fluker: "Call me"
The number associated with Fluker then texted Davis a Wells Fargo bank account number. The text exchange concluded:
Phone number tied to Davis: "That's your Wells Fargo"
Phone number tied to Fluker: "Yea"
Phone number tied to Davis: "Transferring to what acct"
Phone number tied to Fluker: "Checking"
• Yahoo Sports also acquired an email that Davis sent to Hodge Brahmbhatt, with the subject line "DJ Fluker Invoice." The email listed 49 line-item transactions and a notation at the bottom: "Total: $33,755." The line items matched up with debit card charge transactions found in Davis' bank records and also matched multiple receipts authenticated by Yahoo Sports. Line items included airfare on Delta, hotel lodging in Miami during the 2013 national championship game and retail purchases. The line item also included $18,020 in wire transfers and cash withdrawals.
In a statement to Yahoo Sports, Brahmbhatt's attorney Alan Futerfas said that Jade Management gave Davis "travel and expense moneys," but was not aware of any statements he was making to Fluker or anyone else about the purpose of the money. He added that Fluker had a brief relationship with Jade Management, which began after an introduction by Davis. Futerfas said none of Fluker's money was managed by Jade prior to him leaving the firm. He added that Davis' $33,755 invoice to D.J. Fluker "had nothing to do with the firm."
"The firm neither possessed nor managed a dime of Mr. Fluker's money and the firm merely forwarded the invoice to Mr. Fluker for his consideration," Futerfas said.
As for the Hanleigh insurance quote, Futerfas said the quote was requested by Fluker but ultimately never secured.
"Mr. Fluker had an insurance offer from another source and asked Mr. Brahmbhatt's firm to look at other options," Futerfas said. "The proposed Hanleigh policy was less expensive and, had it been accepted by Mr. Fluker, would indeed have become effective the next day. Importantly, the premium would not need to be paid until Mr. Fluker finished his collegiate career."
According to NCAA rules, such insurance coverage would have been considered an extra benefit because it would have begun prior to the national championship game.
Financial adviser Mike Rowan
Financial records show Rowan provided $2,450 to Davis through either Western Union fund transfer or bank deposit. The transactions occurred in three separate dates in January, May and June of 2012. Rowan told Yahoo Sports that Davis introduced him to Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker and was a point of contact for a handful of potential draft picks.
"I met Luther and he seemed to have a lot of good college contacts," Rowan said. "I sent him money on a few occasions. I was trying to integrate him into helping us recruit some guys. It was more a matter of just helping to get him engaged. I knew that he may be talking to other people."
Yahoo Sports also asked Rowan to provide context for a series of text messages between Rowan and a phone number tied to Davis. Among them:
• Jan. 26, 2012 – A text message exchange between Rowan and a phone number tied to Davis:
Rowan: "I checked it Roun…..It will be in there tomorrow afternoon."
Phone number tied to Davis: "Your acct or mine?"
Rowan: "Into mine and then into yours if I can turn it around in time. If not ill [sic] send it Moneygram"
Phone number tied to Davis: "Ok cool, how much to Fluke?"
Rowan: "Ill call u tonight. just let me know"
Phone number tied to Davis: "Cool"
• March 29-30, 2012 – A text message exchange between Rowan and a phone number tied to Davis:
Phone number tied to Davis: "Roun will that wire be taken care by morning because my flight leave at noon. And I'm trying to make sure fluke str8"
Rowan: "Roun it will be taken care of today. I'm not sure by what time. If you leave before its done how do you want me to handle it?"
• April 3, 2012 – A text message exchange between Rowan and a phone number tied to Davis:
Rowan: "I put half a stack in your Regions account this morning Roun"
Phone number tied to Davis: "Fasho roun, I'll shoot it to him this afternoon"
Rowan's explanation: "If I said anything, it was more a matter of, whatever he did with [the money] was ultimately up to him. I knew that he was engaged in the business and was trying to grow the business and trying to do some business management for some guys. So it really wasn't a conflict as far as what we did versus what he did. I ultimately was thinking about trying to bring him on as a consultant. Beyond what he got, what he did with it was ultimately really up to him. I didn't know if it was going to [Fluker] personally, I didn't know if it was going to take these guys out to dinner or what the purpose of it was. I met with Fluker like, maybe two or three times. I thought we were going to actually work with him and nothing came of it."
NFL agent Peter Schaffer, Authentic Athletix
Financial records show Schaffer provided $4,900 to Davis via four wire transfers in June, July, August and September of 2012. Schaffer told Yahoo Sports he has never met Davis in person, but did loan Davis roughly $3,000 to fund a business venture. He added that Davis was handling the agent search for several college players who were expected to be future clients, and expressed a willingness to recommend Schaffer to players if he believed Schaffer would be a good fit.
Schaffer said he received an emailed promissory note for his loan to Davis, and that his own financial records do reflect a $2,800 deposit that matches up with Davis' bank statement on July 13, 2012. However, Schaffer said he did not recall three other deposits totaling an additional $2,100 which also appeared in Davis' bank statements. He also said the monies were not in exchange for recruiting Alabama players, nor was the money relayed to Davis expected to go to NFL draft prospects.
"Absolutely not," Schaffer said. "Nor did Luther say he was using the money for any other than to operate his company. … There's no doubt they were loans."
APS Management financial adviser Jason Jernigan
Financial records show Jernigan and APS management deposited $13,150 into Davis' account via nine wire transfers from Dec. 16, 2011 through Sept. 17, 2012. Jernigan declined to comment about the deposits or his relationship with Davis.