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Join Date: May 2004
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What is up with the Bush's?
The National Football League Players Association is investigating claims that a representative of a fledging sports agency and marketing firm attempted to extort $3.2 million from Reggie Bush and his family, the SportsBusiness Journal reported Friday.
According to unnamed sources in the report, Bush family members were being pressured to sign a representation agreement with New Era Sports & Entertainment, and were told that if they did not pay the money, information that could damage Bush's status in Saturday's NFL draft would become public.
David Caravantes, whom the report indicated is a NFLPA-certified agent linked to New Era, said he had "absolutely no knowledge of any money demand of the Bushes." Caravantes acknowledged receiving a letter from the NFLPA asking him to provide an explanation about the allegations, the report said.
These latest allegations were accompanied by published reports that Bush's parents did not pay $54,000 in rent during the year they lived in a home owned by a sports marketing agency investor who wanted to represent the football star.
The landlord, Michael Michaels, said that Bush's mother and stepfather agreed to pay $4,500 in monthly rent when they moved into the Spring Valley house he bought for $757,000 in March 2005, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday.
They didn't pay for the first few months but promised to pay when the Heisman Trophy-winner started earning millions of dollars after turning pro, said Michaels, who described himself as a real estate investor.
Michaels' attorney, Brian Watkins, claimed that Bush was made aware of the situation and also promised to repay the debt when he turned professional, according to a report in Friday's Los Angeles Times.
"Originally there was a rental agreement, but they never paid a dime," Watkins told the Times. "It was always, 'Don't worry, we'll pay you - you can take it out of our profits."'
Bush, however, did not sign with Michaels' firm, New Era Sports & Entertainment LLC, which Watkins said the running back's stepfather helped found. Relations with the family deteriorated and Watkins sent the player's parents an eviction notice on April 3, a copy of which he showed the Union-Tribune.
Bush's parents, LaMar and Denise Griffin, moved out of the house last week. Bush has said his parents left because they found another place to live.
Watkins said he plans to file a $3.2 million fraud lawsuit against Bush's parents and possibly Bush. The sum includes $300,000 in money that Michaels claims he and another investor, a documented gang member named Lloyd Lake, put into the business, plus punitive damages.
Bush chose to turn pro after his junior season with USC and is expected to be the No. 1 pick in Saturday's NFL draft.
Watkins and David Cornwell, the Bush family attorney, did not immediately return phone calls from The Associated Press late Thursday.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement Friday, "Based on the information presented by Reggie Bush's attorney, our office has advised the attorney to consider referring these matters to law enforcement authorities."
Bush has denied knowledge of any deal with Michaels and has promised that details would emerge later that would explain the family's living situation.
"I'm confident and I know what the truth is," he said Thursday at a pre-NFL draft appearance in New York. "I know for a fact that everything is fine and this is all blown out of proportion and there's more to the story than is being told right now."
The NCAA is investigating whether the living arrangement violated rules prohibiting student-athletes and their families from receiving extra benefits from agents or their representatives.
Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen said earlier this week that a Pac-10 investigation could start soon, but gave no specific time frame. USC could forfeit its 2005 Pac-10 football title if Bush is ruled ineligible, he said.
Any violation could also put Bush in a precarious position with the organization that awards the Heisman Trophy; the award ballot states that the winner must be in compliance with NCAA rules. Heisman officials have said they will wait until the Pac-10 investigation is complete before deciding if any action needs to be taken.
USC coach Pete Carroll, reached late Thursday night, said: "I don't know the details of it, so I have no comment about it."
According to Watkins, the scenario began when LaMar Griffin, Bush's stepfather, approached Lake during the player's sophomore season in the fall of 2004 with a proposal to form a sports management business. Watkins described Lake - a documented gang member from El Cajon who is now serving time in prison for a probation violation - as a longtime friend of the Bush family.
Griffin and Lake teamed up with Michaels to form New Era, he said. Michaels was a close associate of Lake's, according to a 2002 FBI affidavit filed in support of arrest warrants for Lake and other accused San Diego gang members.
At one point, San Diego-based sports agent David Caravantes joined the team, with the plan being that New Era would market Bush and Caravantes would represent him.
Because Michaels is a member of the Sycuan Indian tribe, the group approached the tribal council in search of more investments.
The tribe declined to join the venture, said Adam Day, Sycuan's assistant tribal manager.
Around then, Watkins told the Times, the Griffins started asking for money.
"They had some financial problems and couldn't focus on building the business," he said.
The falling out between Michaels and Bush's family began when the player hired another marketing representative — Mike Ornstein —and another agent — Joel Segal.
What in the world is going on here.. Bush family are having lots of stuff cropping up.
You can get more with a 2 by 4 and a kind word then just with a kind word.
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