The California-based placer club, owned by former New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, is about to become one of the most famous sports teams in the world.
Now, a lawsuit filed in federal court has alleged the club engaged in fraud and racketeering in an attempt to secure $15 million in cash payments.
The suit, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges the team was involved in a scheme to collect $15,000 a month from players, coaches and employees in exchange for not having to wear a brace on the ankle of the player.
In addition to Rodriguez, the suit claims the club was tied to a team of former professional athletes.
The suits claims that in 2006, when the club began offering the brace as a part of its season ticket packages, a player with the New York Mets became a “fall guy” and a person working for the club “was involved in the scheme.”
The suit alleges that the fall guy was a former player for the New Jersey Nets who “was paid in cash and other types of cash by the club and was paid to wear the brace for the player’s season.”
The fall guy, according to the suit, told the fall man that the player had a “leg injury” and that the brace would help him stay healthy.
The fall man told the club that the athlete had been “losing a lot of weight” and the brace “would help him recover.”
The club allegedly told the agent who worked for the fall person that the “fall man” was “doing a good job” and was going to make $15k a month.
The agent allegedly agreed to make the fall player a contract, and the fall coach allegedly signed the player to a three-year, $25,000 contract.
The lawsuit alleges the fall team then “reached out to other players, including a former New Jersey Yankees player, to see if they would be willing to wear bracelets that would allow them to stay on the field during games.”
The lawsuit says the agent later “discovered” that a member of the fall roster had been using a brace during a workout and that a former member of that player’s team was in the fall.
In one instance, the agent allegedly contacted a member on the team and told him that the team wanted him to wear an implant that would “recover the players body.”
The agent later received an email from the fall squad informing him that they were in the process of buying a new device, according the lawsuit.
In March 2011, the fall group informed the agent that the device was “not going to be approved.”
The next month, the club allegedly gave the fall members a letter telling them that the band was not approved because it was too expensive.
The next year, the team allegedly sent an email to the fall players explaining that the wristband was not an implant but rather a brace that would recover the player when the player injured himself.
The email said the brace was “a non-medically approved implant.”
The spring team was notified in April 2011 that the implant was being used by a player who had an undisclosed injury, according a lawsuit.
The spring group told the team that the bracelet was not medically approved because of “its size and shape,” the suit said.
The Spring team reportedly told the Spring team that if the player wanted to wear any type of implant, the band would not work and the team “would not be able to afford the bracelet.”
In May 2011, a Spring team member contacted the Spring club’s legal counsel and informed them that his client had been wearing the band for over a year, according an email the Spring player allegedly sent to the Spring lawyer.
The attorney then contacted the Fall team, who told the Fall group that the spring team “was in the midst of buying an implant for the players wrist band,” according to a lawsuit the Spring group allegedly sent.
The Fall team told the suit that the Spring squad had “never approved the implant and was not in a position to do so.”
The Spring group told them that “they would not be in a situation to buy the implant if the implant is approved,” the lawsuit said.
In July 2011, another Spring team player told the lawsuit that the Fall club had sent an invoice for the brace that had been placed on his ankle.
The team reportedly then asked the Fall player to “contact the Fall football team,” according the suit.
In August 2011, two weeks after the fall teams initial payment of $15M, the Fall band “requested that the club pay a deposit of $30,000 to a New Jersey-based bank account to be used as collateral for a loan to cover the deposit,” the Spring lawsuit alleged.
“The deposit was never used and no money was ever paid out of the account,” the Fall suit alleged.
The bank declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing an ongoing investigation.
A representative for the Spring and Fall teams did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The