Top Stories

The Genius of C-Span (and a Boozy Chris Berman)

Today SbB salutes a true pioneer in television history.

A man who over three decades ago changed our everyday lives because he was unafraid to take a chance on what - at least at the time - was far from a sure thing. A trailblazer who has entertained us with an on-air style so unique that it’s as unmistakable to Americans as baseball and apple pie.

We’re talking, of course, about C-Span founder and Book TV host Brian Lamb, who retired this week.

He will be missed.

Enjoy the video.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

Money Shot Of MLB ‘Pon Stars’ Completely Spent

Any chance of Fred Wilpon maintaining ownership of the Mets likely ended this week thanks to a U.S district court judge named Jed Rakoff.

New York Mets ticket sales won't save MLB's 'Pon Star' Owner

(Opening Day: Mets Fans No Longer Pay To Watch “Pon Stars”)

On the eve of a federal court proceeding to determine if the Mets owe up to $383 million to the victims of the $50 billion Bernie Madoff Ponzi, and with Wilpon and the Mets already facing long odds in their attempt to “restructure” hundreds of millions in debt directly attributed to their intimate and unorthodox financial arrangement with Madoff, Wednesday Rakoff issued the following requirements of the MLB team’s counsel in its bid to stave off additional creditors:

A central issue in the forthcoming trial is whether the transfers that Madoff Securities made to the defendants during the two years preceding Madoff Securities’ filing for bankruptcy –up to an amount equal to their investment with Madoff Securities during the same period -were received by the defendants in good faith, i.e., without their having willfully blinded themselves to Madoff’s scheme.

At the in-court conference on March 9, 2012, the parties raised the question of whether, on the facts of this case, this issue should be viewed as an issue under 11 U.S.C. § 548(a) (1) (A), in which case the burden of proving willful blindness would be on the plaintiff, or as an issue under 11 U.S.C. § 548(c), in which case the burden of proving the absence of willful blindness would be on the defendants.

Having considered the parties’ submissions, the Court adheres to its prior determination that this is an issue under § 548(c), and that therefore the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendants received the aforementioned transfers in good faith (i.e.,in the absence of willful blindness) rests on the defendants.

Ingested without an Everest-like level of evidence against Wilpon and the Mets in relation to the nature of their “faith” in the legitimacy of their Madoff investments, Rakoff’s order may seem somewhat innocuous.

But as such evidence exists, including the documentation of a phony $54 million “investment” by Ruth Madoff (on Mets letterheard!) and the son of Mets co-Owner Saul Katz stating under oath that the team initially tried to keep their “investments” with Madoff a secret, even if Wilpon & Co. win a satisfactory judgement the necessary court defense required to provide such an outcome completely defeats their subsequent reasoning for being allowed to keep the team.

Thus far the defense proffered by Wilpon - who is unquestionably the front man of the Mets - is that the unflinching, decades-long level of trust he placed with Madoff in “investing” billions in assets was solely based on the Ponzi schemer being his “family friend.”

(Mets Letterhead: Phony “Investment” Helped Save SNY Deal For Team)

But in the same breath Wilpon has also stated as part of that defense that he wasn’t that close to Madoff.

Excerpt from Wilpon discussing his relationship to Madoff during a sworn July 10, 2010, deposition in New York:

I had a personal relationship with the Madoffs that developed over time, and not an everyday personal relationship, but a friendship.

And so I made it a policy that when I saw him at a charitable event or celebration of some kind, you know, we attended his kids’ weddings, he attended our kids’, you know, we were family friends, I just didn’t discuss business with him.

So my conversations with Bernie Madoff were really of a, just of a personal nature.

Of what was happening in their lives and what was happening in our lives.

Not in a context of, you know, what’s happening in the business, how are you investing these funds?

Because, frankly, I wouldn’t — that’s not my expertise. I wouldn’t really know, and I didn’t want to mix the two.

So, once a year we’d go and have a conversation, mostly schmoozing. You know what schmoozing is.

That’s the kind of relationship it was. Very trusting relationship.

There’s no person that you will talk to, none, that is more betrayed than I am.

So Wilpon didn’t have an “everyday personal relationship” with the man the Mets tied up most of their money with while also vigorously transacting that cash to purposefully extract as much of Madoff’s phony “interest” as possible.

Bernie Madoff Investments Were Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz Family Secret

Yet Wilpon also claims he nor anyone with the Mets ever investigated Madoff’s “investment” firm to see if transacting billions with Madoff was a safe, prudent investment for the Mets - because they trusted him so much!

If Wilpon was unsophisticated enough to think the Mets should not investigate the man - with whom he himself was not close to  - in sole possession of the vast majority of the team’s money over the years, how does Wilpon possibly possess the level of sophistication and credibility required to continue to run a Major League Baseball franchise in the country’s #1 market?

The answer probably no longer matters.

Today Howard Megdal of reported of the current financial quagmire facing Wilpon’s Mets:

A $40 million bridge loan from Bank of America, taken out late last November, is due back this month. The minority stakes would also go toward paying a past-due loan of $25 million due back to Major League Baseball, and a portion–likely at least $100 million–of the $430 million debt against the team due back in June 2014.

But while Wilpon assured reporters, yet again, that those other sales were imminent, we are now more than halfway through March without any news on that front.

Then there’s this excerpt from a recent post by Mike Ozanian of that also ponders the immediate solvency of Wilpon’s Mets:

The Mets are praying that their season ticket sales will look good enough by the end of April that they can restructure $430 million of debt due in two years. If not, two sports bankers familiar with the team’s finances I have spoken with believe it is likely the Mets will follow the Dodgers into Chapter 11.

As of this morning you could still buy seats for the Mets home opener against the Braves on April 5 for yourself and 11 of your closest friends - together - in at least three Citi Field sections spanning low-mid-high prices.

New York Mets ticket sales won't save MLB's 'Pon Star' Owner

SbB can also confirm that the full-size image of what is likely the last money shot of baseball’s “Pon Stars” is safe for work.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

Unsettling Colts Behavior Released In Court Docs

When it was initially filed in federal court last year, the racial/ethnic orgin discrimination lawsuit brought by ex-Indianapolis Colts cheerleader Malori Wampler against the NFL franchise seemed dubious.

Kaley Collier Photos Didnt Bother Theresa Pottraz As Much As Malori Wampler Body Paint Photos

(’Midwest Moral Standards’ Apply To Indonesian Wampler, Not Caucasian Kaley?)

Then Colts Cheerleading Coordinator Theresa Pottratz participated in a sworn deposition last month.

While under oath, Pottraz volunteered on Feb. 16, 2012, that “there is a certain moral standard we (Colts) have.

In response to Pottraz’s statement, Wampler’s attorney then asked the Colts Cheerleading Coordinator to, “describe your moral standard.”

In response, Pottraz said, “Our cheerleaders we go for the girl next door image because that’s what our Midwest fans like.”

Eight months after the Colts fired Wampler for not living up to the “moral standards” of the “girl next door image”  that their “Midwest fans like”, posted a series of photos of a different, current Colts cheerleader in what appeared to be varying states of profound inebriation.

Kaley Collier Photos

(Current Cheerleader ‘Kaley Collier’ & ‘Kaley C.’ Now ‘Erin C.’ On Colts Site)

After’s “Jay Kool” noted that the Colts had previously fired Wampler for appearing in “risque photos“, the site’s writer posted the following description of the images of the current Colts cheerleader:

Please, Colts front office, just keep this chick around. Don’t let her tongue working on a champagne bottle scare you. And don’t be scared of the six guys on top of her – probably gay. Most of all, don’t be offended by fake licking fake boobs. It’s all good. Kaley is what’s right with NFL cheerleading. For now.

The Colts cheerleader in the photos was referred to by, and later by Indianapolis radio station X103’s website, as “Kaley Collier.

A month before the photo post, WANE-TV in Fort Wayne, Indiana, reported:

A Decatur woman will soon inspire the spirit of hundreds of thousands of Indianapolis Colts fans.

Kaley C. is one of the newest members of the Colts Cheerleaders.

She stopped by First News Sunday to talk about her past experiences, the process of trying out for the Colts Cheerleading Squad and what she is looking forward to this football season.

The site also posted a video interview of “Kaley C.“, who appeared to be the same woman in the photos posted by and Indianapolis radio station website

The Colts official website does not list a “Kaley C.” on its current roster of cheerleaders, but the site does include at least one photo labeled “Kaley” on the server. The image was part of a collection of photos featuring Colts cheerleaders at the squad’s most recent swimsuit calendar shoot - and attributed to a Colts cheerleader currently listed on the team’s website as “Erin C.

Obviously “Erin C.” is the same current Colts cheerleader identified as “Kaley Collier” in the extremely embarrassing photos on an Indianapolis radio station website and the highly-trafficked blog And the same current Colts cheerleader referred to as “Kaley C.” in an interview with Fort Wayne television station WANE last June.

Kaley Collier Photos Didnt Bother Theresa Pottraz As Much As Malori Wampler Body Paint Photos

(Colts: Moral Conduct Clause It Used To Fire Wampler “Speaks for itself”)

Why would Kaley Collier identify herself to her hometown TV news station as “Kaley C.” and the Colts label one of her photos on its official website as “Kaley” considering she’s currently identified as “Erin C.” on the same Colts website?

Might the now-nearly 4,300 Google results for “Kaley Collier”, most of which are related to the photos of her on, have something to do with it?

Unlike Wampler, Collier’s current employ with the Colts, which was confirmed by Pottraz during her deposition last month, is a mystery in lieu of the contract the Colts cited in firing Wampler. A contract that includes the following excerpt from a section called “Special Cheerleader Covenants.”:

A) Cheerleader agrees not to commit any act that will or may create notoriety (including posing nude or semi-nude in or for any media or publication whatsoever), bring cheerleader into public disrepute and/or reflect adversely on club or its sponsors. Cheerleader understands that she will serve as a public representative of the club from time to time and that it is important as part of this employment relationship that she be viewed in a positive manner. Cheerleader agrees to behave in accordance with socially acceptable mores and conventions.

As it pertained to Wampler’s termination, the Colts noted in federal court that the above clause “speaks for itself.” (PDF - #23)

Colts cheerleaders are also legally bound to the following clause in their official team-only “rules and regulations“:

All Squad members must maintain themselves in a professional manner on all online forums.  including but not limited to Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn and public online photo sharing (sites.)

Apparently Collier missed the part about maintaining herself in a professional manner on Twitter if this past Tweet from a Twitter account attributed to “Kaley Collier” is any indication.

Though in fairness the Tweet from “KaleyCheer” - “i have no idea how to work this sh–” - happened before Collier was hired as “Erin C.” by the Colts.

But so did the photos Wampler was fired for by the Colts.

So why does Collier have a job when Wampler doesn’t?

Very good question.

The Colts have also never actually established any manner of proof that the Wampler photos contained in the complaint letter to the club were ever uploaded to the internet before Wampler was fired. Or that the photos, as the complaint letter to the team alleged, were available for purchase on (Perhaps that’s why the Colts allowed Wampler to perform the Sunday after the team received the complaint letter about her without telling the Indonesian female she would be fired the next day?)

Instead, the body paint photos of Wampler only gained widespread distribution on the web after the Colts fired her for, again, photos that the club hasn’t proven were viewed by anyone other than a photographer and the person who sent the complaint letter to the Colts. (Which for all we know could be the same person.)

Colts Nude Playboy Cheerleader Photos Letter That Got Malori Wampler Fired

(How many NFL fans call cheerleaders “ambassadors”?)

There’s also no dispute that Wampler took the photos before she was hired by the Colts and her name nor the Colts themselves were ever associated with the photos cited as the reason for her termination.

One cannot say the same for Collier.

The entire premise of the highly-trafficked sports website and Indianapolis radio station website posting several wildly unflattering photos of Collier, along with thousands of other web locales, was that she was a current Colts cheerleader.

Meanwhile the photos that got Wampler fired showed her covered in body paint similar to a 2005 Sports Illustrated nude body paint model who was covered only by an image of the jersey of an NFL franchise, the Miami Dolphins. (Which required approval by the NFL team in advance.)

Malori Wampler Body Paint Photos No Different Than Sports Illustrated Model In Dolphins Jersey Body Paint

Though Wampler and Collier do have two things in common: They weren’t paid for appearing in the photos and neither knew the images in question would ever be disseminated to millions of viewers.

Of course in the latter case the previously, completely unaware public has only the Colts to thank for the now-gone-viral Wampler body paint photos.

Nice to know the Colts aren’t below calling attention to photos of an attractive Indonesian female even if she isn’t, as Colts Cheerleading Coordinator and moral standard-bearer Theresa Pottraz reminded us last February, “the girl next door image that our Midwest fans like.”

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

Williams Audio: ‘Kill The Head The Body Will Die’

On Jan. 26, 2010, New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who has since admitted to administering a bounty program within the New Orleans Saints defense, appeared on Nashville’s 3 Hour Lunch radio show on 104.5 The Zone to discuss the upcoming Super Bowl between the Saints and the Indianapolis Colts while extolling the finer points of his coaching philosophy.

(Exactly What Appears To Have Happened)

Below is a short montage of audio excerpts from the WGFX-FM interview accompanied by video of some of the more notorious hits on star NFL quarterbacks made by defenses coordinated by Williams over the years.

During the interview, 104.5 The Zone co-host Blaine Bishop said to Williams, “You may the first coordinator to have knocked out three Hall of Famers.

In response, Williams said, “I sure hope so, you know how that is Blaine. I’m not going to apologize for it either .. You kill the head the body will die.

Bishop was a defensive player coached by Williams from 1993-2000 when both were with the Tennessee Titans.

Williams was also asked by 104.5 The Zone 3 Hour Lunch co-host Clay Travis if he had cautioned the Saints defense about roughing Peyton Manning in the upcoming Super Bowl after the New Orleans defense coordinated by Williams was flagged and later fined for multiple personal fouls against Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in the NFC Championship game the week before.

In response, Williams said, “I’m not going to worry about that and here’s the deal. When you put too much of that type of worry on a warrior’s mind, he doesn’t play all out. If it (personal foul on the quarterback) happens it happens. The only thing you’d like for me to say is if it happens you hope he doesn’t get back up and play again.”

After the response by the Saints defensive coordinator, Travis said, “wow.”

Audio of the complete, 17-minute interview involving Williams and WGFX-FM 3 Hour Lunch co-hosts Bishop, Travis and Brent Dougherty can be found here.

Brooks is on Twitter and Facebook

Mets Board Of Director: Madoff Was Family Secret

Monday a federal court judge in New York ruled that Sterling Partners, the company that owns and operates the New York Mets and SNY under the direct auspicies of the Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz families, must pay $83 million to the Ponzi victims of Bernie Madoff. The judge also reaffirmed a March 19, 2012 trial date to determine if the Wilpon and Katz families - and the Mets - owe the victims of Madoff another $303 million.

Bernie Madoff Investments Were Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz Family Secret

(Wilpon and Katz’s family and friends fed at Madoff-backed Mets “profits” trough)

At trial the trustee of the Madoff victims Irving Picard will be armed with Sterling company documents that include innumerable financial statements and internal communications that show how Madoff’s fictitious investment returns - and the borrowing leverage from its relationship to Madoff - was integral to a business fronted by the brand and financial equity of the Mets.

For example, the 2001 financial statements from companies run by Wilpon and Katz reveal that they budgeted a 14% rate of future return from their current Madoff invesments - which would earn an income of $34 million the following year. At the time that projected income by Wilpon and Katz - from their own company documents in 2001 - accounted for 59% of Sterling’s entire projected total operating cash flow for the year for all their businesses, and 88% of all income generated from liquid assets.

In addition to direct income from “profits” provided by the victims of Madoff’s crimes, at the time of the Madoff bust in 2008 the companies run by Wilpon and Katz had accumulated $237 million from loans backed by, again, the stolen liquidity of Bernie Madoff.

Madoff was so critical to the cash flow and leveraging of the Mets and other Sterling companies that the operator of the largest Ponzi in history had his own permanent line item, “Madoff”, to be discussed at twice-weekly meetings between Wilpon, Katz and other company officials at Sterling.

Wilpon and Katz were so close to the biggest Ponzi schemer in history that Madoff went so far to classify all Sterling accounts with a special “KW” prefix signifying “Katz” and “Wilpon”.  At the time of Madoff’s arrest, Sterling had opened 483 accounts with Madoff for the family, friends and businesses run by Wilpon and Katz - including all of the entities involved with the operation of Mets.

The Wilpon and Katz families were so invested in the financial fortunes of companies funded and leveraged by Madoff that one Bank of America executive called their business operation - according to federal court documents - “a family wealth office.

And while the Wilpon and Katz families have completely denied any knowledge of the Madoff Ponzi, their behavior suggests otherwise.

Bernie Madoff Investments Were Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz Family Secret

(Mets couldn’t keep Ruth Madoff’s $54M “investment” in club secret either)

In one such case Mets Board of Directors member and Sterling “Partner” David Katz, son of family patriarch and Wilpon partner Saul Katz, said in a sworn deposition in 2010 that employees of the company run by Wilpon and his father “weren’t supposed to tell anyone you were invested (with Madoff.)

Katz added that because the companies run by Wilpon and his father had so many accounts with Madoff, eventually close to 500, “it was silly to try” to keep their deep financial ties with Madoff a secret from the public.

Beginning March 19 in New York, expect many more of Wilpon and Katz’s family secrets about Bernie Madoff to be revealed to the public in federal court.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates.

Mets Letter Confirmed Madoff’s $54M ‘Investment’

The parent company of the New York Mets, Sterling Partners, is currently subject to a lawsuit filed in federal court by the court-appointed trustee representing the countless victims of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

(Wilpon, Mets never spoke to Ruth Madoff about “investment”)

The managing partner of the Mets, Fred Wilpon, is one of the first two defendants named in the “clawback” lawsuit, which seeks $386 million in restitution amid allegations that Wilpon used what he knew was unclean money from Madoff to fund - and leverage - the day-to-day operation of the Mets and other Sterling entities.

Monday a federal court judge ruled that Wilpon and his Sterling Partners must pay $83,309,162 to the victims - via the court-appointed trustee - of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. The judge also reaffirmed a March 19, 2012 trial date to determine the rest of the $303 million the trustee of Madoff’s victims continues to seek.

As noted in previous sworn depositions relating to the case, Wilpon and son Jeff, who is also heavily involved with the operation of the Mets, both said they never vetted Madoff’s background or investments because of their longtime family friendship.

Though the exhaustive 383-page complaint filed by the trustee of Madoff’s victims last March asserts that the Wilpons willfully ignored red flags that would’ve led any reasonable person - investor or not - to suspect what turned out to be the largest Ponzi in history.

Red flags that included an internal Sterling company audit of Madoff that all but concluded he was engaged in some manner of financial fraud. Though when the Madoff court-appointed trustee requested the documents from that Sterling-commissioned audit of Madoff, the Madoff trustee was told by Wilpon’s company that it was “missing.”

Another example cited in federal court by the Madoff trustee as evidence Fred Wilpon knew Madoff’s business was not legitimate was the seemingly bizarre though brief nature of a $54 million transaction between the Madoffs and the Mets.

Below is the Madoff trustee’s federal court description of how Ruth Madoff’s $54 million “investment” in the Mets helped leverage Wilpon & Co. sufficiently to facilitate starting its own sports television network. 

The New York Mets parent company, Sterling Partners, Knew That Madoff Was Dishonest In His Investment Advisory Business. Madoff and Sterling falsely documented a $54 million bridge loan.

The Sterling Partners had such a close relationship with Madoff that they were willing – together with Madoff – to create a fraudulent letter agreement that falsely described an interest- and cost- free $54 million loan from Madoff as an “investment” by his wife, Ruth.

In May 2004, Sterling sought to buy-out the broadcast rights of the New York Mets from Cablevision to launch the television network SNY. To finance the buy-out, Sterling applied to two banks for loans totaling $54 million.

However, as the deadline for closing the buy-out approached, the Sterling Partners grew concerned that the bank loans would not provide funding in time, so they turned to Madoff.

On or about May 25, 2004, the Sterling Partners inquired with Madoff about making a large redemption from their BLMIS accounts. In response, Madoff told Saul Katz, Fred Wilpon, and Marvin Tepper, in particular, that Sterling’s BLMIS accounts were “in the market” and, as a result, redeeming funds at that time would lower their returns.

As an alternative to such a large redemption from Sterling’s BLMIS accounts, Madoff offered to send Sterling the $54 million needed to finance the buy-out of the broadcast rights.

On or about May 26, 2004, Madoff wired to Sterling $54 million, which was comprised of other people’s money. Shortly thereafter, the bank loans totaling $54 million closed.

On or about May 27, 2004, Sterling repaid the $54 million it had borrowed from Madoff and instead used the bank loan proceeds to finance the buy-out of the broadcast rights.

Although Madoff and Sterling agreed that the $54 million transfer from Madoff was a loan, Sterling prepared on Mets letterhead a letter agreement dated May 25, 2004 from Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz to Ruth Madoff that falsely described the transaction as an investment by Ruth Madoff in the company that would later become SNY.

Sterling Partner Marvin Tepper was involved in the drafting of the May 25, 2004 letter agreement.

The May 25, 2004 letter agreement characterized Madoff’s loan to Sterling as an “investment” by Madoff’s wife, Ruth.

The May 25, 2004 letter agreement provided, in relevant part:

‘This will confirm the conversations with respect to an investment by you [Ruth Madoff] in the Network. Over the years you have invested with us in, among other things, real estate funds; and we contemplate extending this relationship to the Network. . . . You are simultaneously wiring to Sterling Equities Associates the sum of $54 million which is expected to be the approximate amount of your proposed investment with the Network.’

The May 25, 2004 letter agreement also provided for the payment of a premium of some undetermined amount to Ruth Madoff in the event she, Fred Wilpon, or Saul Katz terminated the agreement:

‘If at any time you [Ruth Madoff] or the undersigned [Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz] elect to terminate this arrangement in the sole discretion of the terminating party, the terminating party shall give written notice to the other party and in either of such events, the undersigned shall pay to you the sum of $54 million. In addition, the undersigned shall pay to you a premium to be mutually agreed, having due regard to all the circumstances including, but not limited to, our long and beneficial business and personal relationships.’

The May 25, 2004 letter agreement was signed by Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz, and Ruth Madoff.

Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, and, upon information and belief, Marvin Tepper knew that the letter falsely described the transaction as an “investment” by Ruth Madoff when in fact it was a no interest, no cost loan from Madoff.

Furthermore, although the letter agreement stated that Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz had conversations with Ruth Madoff regarding the “investment,” neither Fred Wilpon nor Saul Katz ever actually spoke to Ruth Madoff about any investment related to SNY or the predecessor company.

Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz, and Marvin Tepper knew or should have known that it was highly unusual for such a sizable transaction to be supported by only minimal documentation, such as the May 25, 2004 letter agreement.

Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz, and Marvin Tepper knew or should have known that it was even more suspect for the only documentation of such a substantial transaction to not even accurately reflect the true nature of the deal.

The $54 million loan transaction between Sterling and Madoff and the accompanying letter agreement between Saul Katz, Fred Wilpon and Ruth Madoff demonstrate that Saul Katz, Fred Wilpon, and Marvin Tepper were on notice that Madoff would work with them to knowingly falsify a significant business transaction.

The impromptu bridge loan from Madoff allowed Wilpon to ensure, even if they were unable to secure a legitimate bank loan, that the Mets would be able to start a television network from which the Major League Baseball franchise has since financially benefited.

During a July 10, 2010, sworn deposition in New York Fred Wilpon was asked about the documented $54 million transaction involving Ruth Madoff.

Q. Was Ruth Madoff involved in any of these discussions or this discussion, period?
A. No. Not to my knowledge.
Q. I can turn now to the letter that’s in front of you, Exhibit 17. That is your signature at the bottom of the letter, right?
A. I’ve told you that.
Q. So at some point in time you reviewed this letter and you signed it, right?
A. Correct.
Q. So, when you signed this agreement, were there any other signatures on the document when you signed it?
A. I don’t recall.
Q. Don’t remember. When you signed the agreement was there anyone else in the room?
A. I don’t recall that.
Q. How long after the phone call you had with Mr. Madoff where he agreed to wire you $54 million, what was the lag time between that phone call and when you signed this agreement?
A. I have no idea.
Q. Do you remember if you signed this agreement at or around May 25th, 2004?
A. I don’t know.

With the untold, documented leverage and direct funding provided by his financial relationship with Madoff - and the accompanying equity of the Mets - the Wilpons took a modest, family-run company and transformed it into a sophisticated, multi-billion dollar real estate, private equity and hedge fund empire with professional baseball as its centerpiece.

Though when asked during the same, 2010 sworn deposition what he thought of Madoff, Wilpon responded: “There is no person you will talk to, none, that is more betrayed than I am.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates.

Sterling Solicited Prostitute’s Personnel Opinions

In support of its landmark discrimination case against current NBA team owner Donald Sterling, the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) submitted to federal court on July 9, 2009, a sworn statement by Alexandra Castro from a previously unrelated court case.

Donald Sterling solicited prostitute's advice on NBA team personnel matters

(Sterling ‘consulted’ same woman he called a ‘prostitute’ on team personnel) 

Castro, who was a past acquaintance of the NBA owner, included the following characterization of her relationship with Sterling in the 2003 statement filed by the DOJ in support of its 2009 case against Sterling:

“During our relationship, Mr. Sterling consulted me on issues he was considering almost every day including, among others, whether he should hire Alvin Gentry to coach the Los Angeles Clippers (although I had no experience in such matters), how he should respond to requests by players for the Los Angeles Clippers for increases in their compensation (Mr. Sterling and I often had dinner at the Arena Club with agents for a number of players) … “

In the same case United States Attorneys also submitted a deposition of attorney Raymond Hersh, a founding partner of Los Angeles law firm Hersh, Mannis & Bogen who formerly represented Castro. Hersh’s sworn testimony, which was also from a previously unrelated court action, included the following about what Castro had told him about her relationship with Sterling:

“They had a relationship where she cooked, drove, cleaned, was consulted on remodeling apartments, who went to dinner with agents, who should be hired — she didn’t make the decision, she said, but she was consulted about who to hire in the Clipper organization and what should be done, what he was thinking.”

Four months after the U.S. Dept. of Justice submitted the sworn statements from Castro and Hersh to a federal court, along with a mountain of other evidence, NBA team owner Sterling agreed to pay the largest discrimination settlement in the history of United States jurisprudence.

So who is Alexandra Castro and why was Donald Sterling soliciting her opinions on player salaries, inviting her to meet with the agents of Clippers players and consulting her on who the next head coach of the Clippers should be?

In a 2003 sworn deposition, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling described Alexandra Castro under oath as ..

“.. a prostitute … she was a total freak and a piece of trash … “

In the same deposition Sterling described, while under penalty of perjury, his relationship with Castro ..

“It was purely sex for money, money for sex, sex for money, money for sex.  The girl was providing sex for money.”

“I probably didn’t tell my wife .. maybe I did something morally wrong.”

Sterling’s sworn characterizations of Castro - and the exact nature of their relationship - are contained in 2003 Los Angeles Superior Court papers documenting a lawsuit brought by the NBA team owner against Castro.

During what court documents indicate was a relationship between Sterling and Castro from 1999-2002, the Los Angeles Clippers owner voluntarily transferred the title of a Beverly Hills home he owned to Castro and her mother.

After Castro spurned Sterling, ending their relationship, the Los Angeles NBA team team owner filed a lawsuit to get the house back.

The ensuing legal dispute, which effectively forced Castro to make sworn court statements about their relationship in defending herself against the billionaire tycoon’s litigation, ultimately resulted in her retaining the home.

Those same sworn statements about Sterling in Castro’s court response to his 2003 lawsuit were later used against the Los Angeles Clippers owner by the Dept. of Justice in the aforementioned federal discrimination case that cost the NBA team owner nearly $3 million.

And it was, again, those same sworn statements about Sterling in Castro’s court responses to his 2003 lawsuit that also revealed to NBA Commissioner David Stern that one of the league’s club owners solicited opinions on team personnel matters from a woman he claimed, under oath, was “a prostitute …  total freak and a piece of trash.

At least if you believe the United States Department of Justice.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates.

UCLA Confirms SI Exposé on Player Drug Use

Early Tuesday SbB reported on Twitter that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED planned to publish a story detailing drug use within the UCLA basketball program.

The investigative piece, which SbB has been told recounts marijuana usage by players who have since departed the program, was addressed by UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland at his weekly press conference in Los Angeles today.

Q: Have you heard about the Sports Illustrated article coming out?

A: I know there is an article coming out and I think it’s tomorrow.

Q: Have you been contacted for it?

A: I was contacted last Wednesday or Thursday.

Q: Any idea what the subject of the story is going to be?

A: I can’t speculate.

Q: How do you handle a negative story that has a national interest with recruits?

A: Make the players we’re involved with aware of it and we’ve done that so it’s not coming out without some knowledge of the article.

Q: Do you think there was a period when there was kids in the program who had drug problems?

A: Specifically I can’t talk about any former player or student relative to having anything to do with that. We have a comprehensive drug policy here at UCLA where any time someone fails a random drug test, I’m alerted, the trainer is alerted and the person overseeing the drug policy here. And there is a very good and outstanding program in place for student athletes of all teams to receive education and receive counseling and receive discipline.

Q: When you think back do you think you’ve correctly handled inappropriate behavior by players?

A: With specific players in terms of working with our student athletes, I guess I have to ask you to be more specific.

Q: When a player did something inappropriate, do you think you’ve handled those things correctly?

A: Yeah, I think for the most part, I have.

Q: You said “most part.” Is there something maybe you should have . . .

A: I’d have to go back and look at specifics. You’re speaking in generalities. No one is perfect. I would never claim to be that person. Everybody makes mistakes. I’m definitely not perfect.

SbB has been told the 6,500+ word SI story will be posted to the magazine’s website Wednesday morning.

Sources have also recently indicated to SbB that UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero previously tipped off non-athletic UCLA administrators and major donors to the story by noting that the school has hired a crisis communication firm to help address the situation publicly.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

Penn St. TV: Sandusky’s Touching Tribute To Kids

On May 24, 2006, Jerry Sandusky appeared on Penn State Public Broadcasting’s WPSU-TV to talk about the children’s charity he founded in 1977 called The Second Mile.

(2006 PSU video: “touching more and more kids” is “bottom line”)

During a 15-minute interview on WPSU’s Pennsylvania Inside and Out program Sandusky updated the programs and scope of the charity that led him to end his 35-year career as a Penn State player and coach in 2000.

Sandusky’s comments included the following:

“We’ve had a very good year fundraising and we continue to grow programs and reach out and touch more and more kids which is the bottom line and most important thing.”

“… It’s a statewide organization now. We have nine different programs, we have three offices and seven chapters around the state.

“We reach out and touch, through these nine programs, well over 100,000 children.”

The SbB-edited video includes three minutes of excerpts from Sandusky’s appearance on the Penn State Public Broadcasting Station.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

ESPN: “No Intention Of Bringing Back” James

Immediately after Craig James announced last December that he had decided to run for statewide political office in Texas, SbB reported via multiple sources that James was not likely to return as an ESPN college football announcer for the 2012 season.

Craig James out at ESPN: Guns UP

In a brief statement to SbB today, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz essentially eliminated the prospect of James returning to the network.

ESPN’s Krulewitz: “We have no intention of bringing Craig James back in the future.”

Thus ends the second tenure of James at ESPN, which began in 2003. James, whose ESPN contract expires before the 2012 football season, also worked for ESPN in the early ’90s following his NFL playing career.

Today’s ESPN announcement comes as the network prepares to defend itself against a defamation lawsuit filed by Mike Leach against the network last November. The lawsuit also targets James and Dallas-based public relations firm Spaeth Communications by name.

While ESPN, obviously, will not confirm that the now-official departure of James from the network was related to the Leach litigation, it isn’t unreasonable to think that it may have been a factor.

That isn’t necessarily a given though, considering that Leach’s lawsuit, filed against ESPN and James on Nov. 24, 2010, did not deter ESPN from having James work the 2011 season for the network.

Krulewitz also told SbB today that any comments recently made by James on the U.S. Senate campaign trail in Texas, including his recent comments addressing gays, were unrelated to the timing of today’s statement. (Which was in response to a query lodged by SbB to ESPN three days ago - and unrelated to James’ comments about gays - regarding the future of James at the network.)

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates