Commanders' attorney responds to new financial improprieties investigation originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
An ESPN report was published Wednesday regarding the U.S. attorney's office opening a criminal investigation into alleged financial improprieties by the Commanders, which the team reacted to by passing along a statement from attorney John Brownlee from Holland & Knight, who represents the club.
"It is not surprising that ESPN is publishing more falsehoods based solely on anonymous sources — given today’s announcement," the statement reads, referencing the news that Dan and Tanya Snyder are exploring options for a sale of the team. "The Washington Commanders have fully cooperated with federal and state investigators since the House Oversight Review Committee sent its letter to the FTC on April 12, 2022 — now nearly 7 months ago.
"The team has produced tens of thousands of records in response to the requests. The investigations, which ESPN’s anonymous sources have mischaracterized, are premised on the same baseless allegations made by a disgruntled former employee, Jason Friedman, who also is represented by the law firm of Katz Banks."
"We are confident that, after these agencies have had a chance to review the documents and complete their work, they will come to the same conclusion as the team’s internal review — that these allegations are simply untrue."
As the statement mentions, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform shared information with the Federal Trade Commission in mid-April that indicated that "Commanders’ executives, including team owner Dan Snyder, may have engaged in a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct that may have victimized thousands of team fans and the National Football League."
Jason Friedman, who was with the Washington organization for 24 years and served as a vice president of sales and customer service, initially provided the Committee with the evidence it relayed to the FTC. Per the Committee, Friedman alleged in part that:
Team executives "instructed [him] to withhold the security deposits" from fans who purchased premium seating and to "create artificial barriers to discourage customers from requesting the return of their deposits."
The team "improperly converted unclaimed security deposits into revenue to be used for other purposes," revenue that some executives "referred to as 'juice.'" Those instances "would occur when team executives believed the Commanders were 'a little behind' on sales numbers."
The team maintained "two sets of books" — one that was shared with the NFL but underreported certain ticket revenue, and another internal set of books that included the complete and accurate revenue and was "shown to Mr. Snyder."