On November 10, 2010, Kevin Scarbinsky of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS reported that the Birmingham law firm of Lightfoot, Franklin and White had been retained by Auburn to defend the school against recent inquiries involving Cam Newton and his father.
More specifically, the News reported:
According to two people familiar with the Newton inquiry, the law firm’s point men on this issue are William King and Sam Franklin.
Beginning in 1991, it’s well-documented that attorney Sam Franklin and his firm have defended Auburn and its former football coach Pat Dye against multiple NCAA inquiries, including cases which resulted in serious NCAA sanctions being placed on the school’s football and basketball programs.
More specifically, Franklin served as Dye’s personal attorney when the then-Auburn coach was forced to resign after being caught on tape facilitating an improper bank loan to Tiger football player Eric Ramsey.
On November 17, 2010, TMZ.com reported a possible link between an FBI investigation into political corruption in Alabama - supported by thousands of wiretapped conversations - and the “Newton recruiting controversy.”:
According to sources connected to the probe … FBI agents looking into the Newton recruiting controversy are also asking about Milton McGregor — a dog track owner arrested last month for allegedly bribing Alabama politicians to vote pro gambling.
We’re told agents asked someone connected to the Newton case if he was familiar with McGregor or the bribery scandal.
McGregor recently donated $1 million to Auburn to help facilitate the construction of the school’s new basketball arena.
Also arrested by the FBI was prominent Auburn alumnus Robert Geddie, whose lobbying firm was reportedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by a private fundraising arm of Auburn athletics called Tigers Unlimited. (The same Tigers Unlimited that current Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs oversaw before taking over as AD.)
In all, 11 men were arrested as a result of FBI investigation.
Another of the those individuals charged in the political corruption case, Ronnie Gilley, filed a motion in U.S. District Court on December 3 that requested a continuance of the federal criminal trial he and his fellow 10 defendants were scheduled to face on April 4, 2011.
While Gilley’s request, which was subsequently denied, was of little consequence, one document filed in federal court by Gilley’s attorney may indicate that Auburn athletics could indeed be intertwined with the FBI’s wiretap-driven investigation.
On the last page (page 9) of the filing for the continuance of the FBI court case, Sam Franklin and his firm, Lightfoot, Franklin and White, are cited as having been sent documentation of the filing.
So we now know Franklin, who has served as Auburn football and basketball legal counsel for nearly 20 years, is indeed somehow involved in the FBI’s criminal proceeding involving one Auburn booster (McGregor) and another prominent Auburn alum (Geddie) who has been paid vast amounts of money by Auburn athletic department’s private fundraising arm. (And maintains that business agreement to this day.)
A FBI criminal proceeding that Gilley’s lawyer indicated in the continuance request contained 50 hours worth of 2,700 wiretapped phone calls as evidence, along with 180,000 documents as evidence against the defendants.
Might want to mark April 4 on your calendar.
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