From the report:
The U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia has opened a criminal investigation into allegations that the Washington Commanders engaged in financial improprieties, two sources familiar with the matter confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.
The [House Committee on Oversight and Reform] said in its letter to the [Federal Trade Commission] that it had found evidence of deceptive business practices over the span of more than a decade, including withholding ticket revenue from visiting teams and refundable deposits from fans. … At one point in 2016, the team retained up to $5 million from 2,000 season-ticket holders while also concealing sharable revenue from the [NFL], according to the committee.
The report dropped hours after Snyder announced he had retained Bank of America to investigate “transactions” involving the team. That sparked a guessing game on whether Snyder was preparing to cash out entirely, find some new minority owners or just poke around amid his many scandals. But this development certainly lands credence to the idea Snyder may want to, or have to, sell the whole team. Which would be welcomed by pretty much everyone else in the world.
The persistent allegation that Snyder cooked his books to conceal ticket money that should have gone into the NFL revenue-sharing pot remains his biggest weakness. Not only because it could be considered a federal crime, but because it might be the only thing that would move 24 of the other 31 owners (or 23 plus Jim Irsay) to vote Snyder out if the league. The Shield can tolerate many versions of malfeasance. But touching the money? That is likely a bridge too far. Especially when you are so toxic, your presence makes it impossible for another money-making palace of a stadium to be built and make everyone even richer.
Also of note: The lengths the Commanders allegedly went to hide the ticket money. ESPN also reports:
According to other testimony, financial misconduct included making it intentionally difficult for season-ticket holders to recoup refundable deposit money, counting some of those leftover funds as a different kind of revenue that doesn’t need to be shared with the league and shifting money from ticket sales for NFL games to other events at FedEx Field as a way of hiding that money from the league. The committee in the letter shared spreadsheet data showing evidence of deposits that were not returned. Citing emails and the testimony of Jason Friedman, a longtime vice president of sales and customer service, the letter said ticket sales from Washington games were shifted to a 2013 Kenny Chesney concert and a 2014 Navy-Notre Dame college football game as a way to “juice” revenue and keep it off the books shared with the NFL.
With all that allegedly ill-gotten extra cash, you would think they could fix a wall. Or run a raffle properly.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]