Hot off the wires, a story updating information about the Reggie Bush situation (or is this the same story formerly under subscription cover at Sports Business Daily? My apologies if this is more or less a repeat of HP's entry, I don't have subscription access to SBD).
Most of this fails once again to address whatever happened between Bush's parents and Michaels and whatever rent/lease payments were made, but we have someone on record saying Reggie Bush did not meet with New Era Sports & Entertainment founder Michael Michaels and his partner Lloyd Lake as well as agent pal David Caravantes.
"I know for a fact they never met with Reggie," said [David] Reyes, who advises pro athletes on how they can help minimize taxes on signing bonuses.
Michaels' name is on the deed to the home Bush's parents were living in.
We now have public testimony that Bush is not directly connected to Michaels or the agent Michaels was associated with, David Caravantes. However, another article published at ProFootballTalk.com says Lake's attorney, Marc Carlos, testified the following at his parole hearing-
"Mr. Bush - or through his associates - had made some type of agreement with Mr. Lake's group."
It is unclear whether the above allegation is a claim Bush had personally met with Lake and his associates, but it stands in contrast to Reyes' claim.
Someone's lying. Looks like HP sniffed that section of the story out pretty well. The truth about Bush's agent connection or lack thereof relies on his word and the word of Reyes against the testimony of Lake and his attorney, Mr. Carlos.
We still do not know what the rent payments amounted to between Bush's parents and Michaels. As stated on here before, that's where this story is headed, it's the smoking gun that will chart the future course of events because it appears more and more likely that Bush had no direct personal dealings with any agents or the New Era Sports & Entertainment folks.
The rest of the new AP release paints an ugly picture of the New Era trio of Michaels, Lake and Caravantes.
The Sycuan Casino, of which Michaels is the assistant tribal manager, strongly denounced Caravantes:
"He was trying to help a friend who got sent to prison, and made inaccurate statements about his businesses relationship with us," [Sycuan assistant tribal manager Adam] Day said. "We are going to have our attorney look at statement and transcript to see what actions we can potentially take."
That's legal speak for "you're a big fat liar!"
Looks like the Tribe wanted nothing to do with the bumbling trio:
"There was a request to become partners in this New Era Sports," said Day, "Both the tribal council and the development corporation board of directors refused to join into the business venture."
The Sycuan Tribe said it was approached last fall by tribal member Michael C. Michaels, who created New Era Sports & Entertainment LLC with his partner Lloyd Lake, a documented gang member now serving time in prison for a probation violation...
...Michaels, who is also known as Michael Pettiford, was linked to Lake in a lengthy 2002 FBI affidavit filed in support of arrest warrants for Lake and other accused San Diego gang members. FBI agent Allan Vitkosky that Lake's "close relationship" with Michaels allowed Lake to tap a $10,000 line of credit with a quick phone call when he was running low on money at the casino.
Lake, 32, of El Cajon has a felony record that stretches back more than a decade. Police records identified him as one of 73 documented members of a street gang, according to the 2002 warrant. Lake has arrests and convictions for gun- and drug-related charges, and he is currently serving 12 months in a federal prison in Victorville for beating up his girlfriend while on probation for a drug-related charge.
They sound like real winners.
Of course, one of them has his name on the deed to the home formerly occupied by the Griffin family, Bush's parents. As noted on my very first entry about this story, the NCAA relevant mistakes made here are likely traced to Bush's parents and Bush's parents alone-
However, Reggie Bush's parents are potentially guilty of greed and stupidity
I think accepting a new home from bumbling ex-cons qualifies as both greedy and stupid. Now all that matters is determining what, if anything, was exchanged for that home.
Reyes' opinion of the entire New Era operation is particularly damning:
David Reyes, a financial and tax consultant, said he met with Michaels and Lake before they began courting Bush, and let Caravantes use his La Jolla office. New Era Sports used Reyes' office address on a brochure.
"I know for a fact they never met with Reggie," said Reyes, who advises pro athletes on how they can help minimize taxes on signing bonuses.
"Quite honestly, I was concerned from the beginning with this whole deal with Reggie, as far as getting him," Reyes said. "Most people felt he was going to be a No. 1 pick, and he was going with more of a known entity."
Reyes also said he wasn't aware of Michaels and Lake having any marketing experience.
"This was all from scratch," Reyes said. "They didn't have the credentials."
All that matters: Did they pay/what did they pay/was it commensurate with fair market value for that home?
We'll see if today brings any new testimony or documentation about the home deal. Two days in and both Michaels and his tenants have been mum, although it has been reported that the Griffins say they are going to cooperate with any investigation. The delay does little to alleviate the impatient and the pitchfork/torch types who have their minds made up already.
What does all of this mean?
Well, it appears the New Era folks are bad dudes. Somehow, they made a connection not with Bush but with his father, mother, or both. The connection was strong enough to situate the Griffins in a new 3,000 square foot home in March or April of last year.
However, New Era wasn't New Era until October of last year. That leaves a 7-8 month gap where it's unclear what Michaels' interest was with the Griffins---if it was one related to the yet-unborn company or one of regular Tribal/casino affairs.
What we do know is that nobody has fingered Bush or USC for any impropriety. Despite petulant accusations from longtime critics, there's simply no proof as of now that USC or Bush was "cheating" or directly and knowingly involved in any impropriety.
NCAA bylaws allow for punishment of institutions that play ineligible player, whether they do it knowingly or unknowingly. So further investigation will determine Bush's amateur status and USC's culpability and level of punishment, if any.
USC's athletic department passed along investigative powers over to the Pac-10 conference, so it appears the NCAA does not yet have oversight [Update---per this LA Times piece, the NCAA has jumped into the investigation: "a Pacific 10 Conference official confirmed Tuesday that the NCAA has joined the conference in an investigation into Bush's connections with New Era"] and is probably awaiting any investigative findings by the Pac-10. Thing is, the Pac-10 has little investigative power other than to question USC about its knowledge of the situation.
When the public is made aware of the Bush's payment situation is likely the same time the Pac-10 will be made aware of it. That is assuming, of course, that the involved parties ever make the details known publicly and truthfully.
In other words, it's a big waiting game outside of whatever dirt is dug up by the various newspapers and yet unknown public offerings by Michaels or the Griffins.