Home U.S Congress says NFL's Commanders team owner Dan Snyder swindled $5million from season...

Congress says NFL's Commanders team owner Dan Snyder swindled $5million from season ticket holders

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The US House Oversight Committee sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission saying it found evidence the NFL’s Washington Commanders engaged in unlawful financial conduct by withholding ‘approximately $5 million’ from ‘around 2,000’ season ticket holder accounts dating back to owner Dan Snyder’s 1999 purchase of the team.

In the letter obtained by DailyMail.com, the committee said the club also withheld ticket revenue from visiting teams and kept duplicate financial records to conceal these crimes.

The committee’s investigation includes emails and other documents, as well as statements made by former employees, all of which point to ‘a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct,’ according to the letter.

The Democrat-led is requesting that the commission act to ensure the misappropriated funds are returned to the fans who were allegedly swindled by the team.

The Oversight Committee launched the probe into accusations of workplace misconduct against the team after the NFL refused to publicly release finding of its own investigation, which included sexual harassment claims against now-former employees and Snyder himself. Snyder has denied sexually harassing any former employees.

After testimony by former employees, the Oversight Committee’s investigation began to exam the organization’s finances.

The alleged scheme centers around security deposits for season tickets, which should have been returned to customers, but were instead allegedly withheld by the team.

‘According to information and documents obtained by the Committee, for over a decade, Commanders executives may have withheld millions of dollars in refundable security deposits owed to customers upon the expiration of their multi-year seat leases and may have taken steps to prevent customers from collecting these deposits,’ read the letter from the Oversight Committee. ‘According to a former team executive, the Commanders ‘failed to properly refund those security deposits intentionally and took various steps to retain as much of that money as possible.’

‘Documents indicate that as of 2016, the team may have retained up to $5 million in deposits from approximately 2,000 customers.’

In March, former Washington Redskins sales executive Jason Friedman, a 24-year veteran of the organization now known as the Commanders, testified before the Oversight Committee, saying that Snyder controlled the scheme.

‘… these orders that would come from [then-team employee Mitch Gershman] would come with the attachment, you know, Dan wants this, Dan wants that,’ Friedman told the committee on March 14.

Friedman was then asked for the last name of the ‘Dan’ he referenced.

‘Dan Snyder,’ Friedman said. ‘Dan doesn’t want to give the money back.’

When asked to identify who benefitted from the scheme, Friedman said, ‘Redskins ownership, including Daniel Snyder.’

The practice ended around 2017, according to Friedman.

Curiously, one of the fans whose security deposit was allegedly withheld from the team was none other than current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell’s unreturned deposit was for approximately $1,000. The address for the account was listed to the NFL’s head office in Manhattan, and the deposit appears to have been collected prior to Goodell’s election as Commissioner in 2006.

An NFL spokesman did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s questions about Goodell’s security deposit.

The Oversight Committee also accused the club of withholding ticket revenue from visiting teams, in violation of NFL rules.

‘Information and documents obtained by the Committee further suggest that the

Commanders concealed revenues that were owed to the NFL as part of a revenue-sharing

agreement that redistributes revenues to 32 teams in the League and helps set salaries for the

League’s football players,’ read the letter.

‘According to the former executive, 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.”

‘Another former team employee informed the Committee that ”it was known and/or rumored in the office that there was ‘moving around’ of money regarding tickets,” and stated that she told an outside investigator hired by the Washington Commanders about this issue in 2020.’

NFL teams share ticket revenue, with 40 percent going to visiting clubs.

Attorneys representing more than 40 former team employees released a statement Tuesday calling the letter ‘damning.’

‘It’s clear that the team’s misconduct goes well beyond the sexual harassment and abuse of employees already documented and has also impacted the bottom line of the NFL, other NFL owners, and the team’s fans,’ lawyers Lisa Banks and Debra Katz said in their statements. ‘We are proud of our many clients who have come forward at great personal risk to reveal the truth and bring us closer to total transparency about the full extent of the dysfunction at the Washington Commanders.’

The team has not responded to the letter, but rather, reissued a previous statement that was released late last month following reports of the investigation.

‘The team categorically denies any suggestion of financial impropriety of any kind at any time,’ read the statement. ‘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 similar team statement from March included the following: ‘… anyone who offered testimony suggesting a withholding of revenue has committed perjury, plain and simple.’

Banks, who represents Friedman, released a statement condemning the team for accusing her client of perjury.

‘They defamed my client, Jason Friedman, who came forward at the request of the Congressional Oversight Committee and testified truthfully, with evidence,’ Banks said in a statement last month. ‘Unfortunately, Mr. Friedman is unable to defend himself publicly due to contractual constraints that prevent him from speaking freely. He would be happy to recount his testimony if Dan Snyder and the Washington Commanders allow him to do so.’

The NFL fined the Washington Commanders 10 million last year over the toxic workplace and sexual harassment allegations against the team and a number of former employees.

However, the league has refused to release the specific findings of its investigation, citing the privacy concerns of those who gave testimony. Meanwhile, attorneys for the victims and members of Congress have repeatedly called on Goodell to publish its findings against the club.

Since the team was fined, Snyder has been personally accused of groping former team employee Tiffani Johnston’s thigh at a team dinner more than a decade ago – an allegation he denies.

In response, the team launched a supposedly independent investigation into the claims, which the NFL has since taken over, just as it did following the previous allegations against the team made in two Washington Post reports in 2020.

‘Last week, the league stated that we will review and consider Ms. Johnston’s allegations as we would any others regarding workplace conduct at the Washington Commanders,’ league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in the league’s statement. ‘The league, not the team, will conduct an independent investigation and will be retaining an investigator to determine the facts shortly.’

WASHINGTON COMMANDERS SEXUAL HARASSMENT FALLOUT:

Majority owner Dan Snyder: A former cheerleader named Tiffany Bacon Scourby told the Washington Post that Snyder suggested that she join his ‘close friend’ in a hotel room in 2004 so they ‘could get to know each other.’ In February of 2022, more former employees publicized allegations against Snyder. One woman, referred to as Denise, told HBO that she saw Snyder laughing and puffing on a cigar while watching a male executive grope a female employee’s backside in his private suite at FedEx Field. Another former employee, Tiffani Mattingly Johnston, said Snyder put his hand on her knee once at a dinner and later pressured her to get into his limousine, which she refused. The billionaire is also accused of belittling executives, according to three members of the executive staff. Specifically, he’s accused of mocking an employee named Dennis Greene for being a college cheerleader, once allegedly ordering him to do cartwheels for his amusement. Snyder has privately settled one sexual harassment allegation, according to The New York Times and Washington Post. Snyder remains the team’s official owner, but has stepped away from day-to-day involvement with the club and made his wife Tanya co-CEO as the league imposed a $10 million fine.

Dan Snyder (left) still owns the Washington Football Team, but has ceded day-to-day control of the franchise following the NFL's investigation into sexual harassment claims against the club. He has since accused now-former team president Bruce Allen (right) of conspiring to spread false information about him to an Indian website

Dan Snyder (left) still owns the Washington Football Team, but has ceded day-to-day control of the franchise following the NFL’s investigation into sexual harassment claims against the club. He has since accused now-former team president Bruce Allen (right) of conspiring to spread false information about him to an Indian website 

Chief operating officer Mitch Gershman: Former team employee Emily Applegate said he would routinely compliment her body while also regularly berating her for insignificant problems, like printer malfunctions. Her allegations were supported by two other female former employees. When contacted, Gershman told The Post, ‘I barely even remember who she is,’ adding that he ‘would apologize to anyone who thought I was verbally abusive.’ Gershman left the team in 2015.  

Team president Bruce Allen: Although Allen was not accused of sexual harassment or verbal abuse, Applegate claims he must have known about her problems because ‘he sat 30 feet away from me… and saw me sobbing at my desk several times a week.’ The brother of former Virginia Governor and US Senator George Allen, Bruce found himself at the center of Jon Gruden’s email controversy in October of 2021 when the now-former Raiders coach’s racist, homophobic messages were mysteriously leaked to the media. Allen also received racist and sexist emails from Jon Gruden, which surfaced during the NFL’s sexual harassment investigation and were leaked to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Ultimately the emails led to Gruden’s dismissal as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Bruce Allen was fired after the 2019 season, when Washington went 3-13.

Former Washington Redskins director of pro personnel Alex Santos

Former Washington Redskins director of pro personnel Alex Santos

Director of pro personnel Alex Santos: Six former employees and two reporters who covered the team told the Washington Post that Santos made inappropriate remarks to them about their appearances. He also asked them if they were interested in him romantically. In 2019, he allegedly pinched Rhiannon Walker, a reporter for The Athletic, and told her she had ‘an ass like a wagon.’ This resulted in an internal investigation. Another reporter, the Ringer’s Nora Princiotti, also accused Santos of harassing her. Santos, who declined to speak with The Post, was fired in July of 2020.

Team radio play-by-play announcer Larry Michael: Seven former employees told The Post that ‘the voice of the Washington Redskins’ frequently talked openly about female co-workers looks, often making sexually disparaging remarks. He was once caught on a ‘hot mic’ in 2018 discussing the looks of one intern, six sources told The Post. He is also accused of ordering employees to edit together a video of lewd behind-the-scenes outtakes from a 2008 calendar shoot. Michael, who declined to speak with The Post, retired after 16 seasons in July of 2020.

Former radio announcer Larry Michael

Former assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II

Former radio announcer Larry Michael (left) and former assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II (right)

Assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II: In a text message obtained by The Post, Mann told a female colleague that he and other men in the office debated whether she had plastic surgery on her breasts. He also warned another female coworker to expect an ‘inappropriate hug’ from him, adding, ‘don’t worry that will be a stapler in my pocket, nothing else.’ Mann declined to speak with The Post after being fired in July of 2020.

Former president of business operations Dennis Greene

Former president of business operations Dennis Greene

President of business operations Dennis Greene: Five former employees told The Post that Greene asked female sales staffers to wear revealing outfits and flirt with wealthy season ticket holders and suite holders. Greene worked for the club for 17 years until 2018, when it was revealed that he had sold access to team cheerleaders at a bikini photo shoot in Costa Rica as part of a ticket package. According to a New York Times investigation, the 2013 calendar shoot did not involve any sex, but team officials did worry the cheerleaders by taking their passports. Some cheerleaders say they were required to be topless, although the shoot did not include any nudity. After a 14-hour shoot one day, nine of the 36 cheerleaders were reportedly asked to escort suite holders to a local nightclub. Several of the women began to cry, according to the Times. Greene declined to comment and has not worked for the team since he resigned in 2018. 

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