In a lawsuit filed against the Washington Commanders on Thursday, the attorney general of Washington, D.C. said the team had engaged in a plan to defraud District residents of their deposits for season tickets and utilised the money for its own use.
In the last week, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has filed a second complaint.
Racine claimed in the lawsuit on Thursday that the Commanders have offered premium seating tickets to D.C. supporters since 1996, some of which required a security deposit. Racine claims the team retained the money, in some cases for more than ten years, and utilised it, despite the team’s assurance to these ticket buyers that they would automatically receive the deposits refunded within 30 days of the contracts’ expiration.
In addition, the lawsuit claims that when ticket holders requested a refund of their deposits, the team “intentionally complicated the return process by imposing additional, burdensome conditions that were not previously adequately disclosed.”
Racine’s accusations were refuted by a Commanders spokesperson on Thursday.
According to a Commanders spokesperson, the team stopped accepting security deposits for premium tickets more than 20 years ago and for suites more than ten years ago. Season ticket holders started getting their deposits back in 2004. “In 2014, Team management was given the order to notify more than 1,400 customers who had deposits and return all security deposits requested as part of a thorough review.”
According to the Commanders spokeswoman, the team recruited a legal company and forensic auditors to investigate the team’s finances. These investigators did not discover any proof that the team had inappropriately used the funds or purposefully withheld security deposits that should have been repaid.
On Thursday, a spokesman for the NFL did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Racine said that the most recent case is “yet another example of terrible mismanagement and criminal activity by Commanders executives who seem motivated to lie, cheat, and steal from District citizens in as many ways as possible.” He charged the Dan Snyder-owned team with “arrogance and flagrant disrespect for the law.”
According to the lawsuit, a Commanders’ employee informed team corporate officers in 2009 that this was against the terms of the contract, but the team persisted in subjecting customers to additional duties.
The team illegally withheld hundreds of thousands of dollars from district residents as a result of these dishonest tactics, the attorney general claimed.
He claimed that as of March 2022, the Commanders still had approximately $200,000 in unreturned security deposits, despite returning part of the money to ticket purchasers. Additionally, it is claimed in the case that the Commanders turned security deposits made by D.C. residents into money for the team by forfeiting thousands of dollars.
Racine claimed that the Commanders, Snyder, the NFL, and its commissioner Roger Goodell misled D.C. citizens about the team’s allegedly poisonous culture and sexual harassment in the first complaint, which was filed independently of this one.
Recent investigations into sexual harassment and financial malfeasance by the House Oversight Committee and the NFL focused on The Commanders and Snyder, who has owned the team since 1999
A Commanders spokesperson said in a statement released last week that the team’s owners had previously admitted “that an unacceptable workplace culture had existed within their organisation for several years and they have apologised many times for allowing that to happen.”
According to the spokeswoman, ownership concurs with the attorney general that the public must be informed of the facts. Although there are many innuendos, half-truths, and lies repeated in the lawsuit, the spokesperson said, “We welcome this opportunity to defend the organisation — for the first time — in a court of law and to establish, once and for all, what is fact and what is fiction.”
The NFL is conducting a review. Mary Jo White, a former SEC chair, is in charge of it. The investigation into possible financial irregularities has spurred additional inquiries into the Commanders.
According to a recent report by ESPN, the Eastern District of Virginia U.S. Attorney’s Office has launched a criminal investigation into the team’s alleged financial malfeasance.
Snyder has meanwhile listed the team for sale. The agreement might be worth up to $7 billion for the Commanders. The NFL has stated that any agreement must pass muster with its financial committee and 24 of the league’s 32 teams.