A wide-ranging, 18-month investigation of racketeering in the sports and entertainment agency industries brought indictments Wednesday of three high-profile agents and a criminal complaint against Cris Carter, a 1986 All-American wide receiver at Ohio State.
New York-based agents Norby Walters and Lloyd Bloom are accused of offering cash, cars, clothing and trips to athletes in exchange for signed--in some cases post-dated--agreements allowing Walters and Bloom to represent them in professional contract negotiations.
Also indicted was agent Dave Lueddeke of Sherman Oaks.
U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas said 43 college athletes who signed with Walters and Bloom--many of whom subsequently became professionals--avoided prosecution with pretrial agreements to perform community service and to reimburse a portion of their scholarships.
Carter, who left Ohio State with a year of eligibility to go and was chosen by the Philadelphia Eagles in a supplemental draft, was charged with obstruction of justice for concealing a $5,000 payment, delivered by Lueddeke, from the federal grand jury investigating the case.
Lueddeke was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from the $5,000 payment.
Walters, 58, and Bloom, 29, each could face a maximum of 70 years in jail and $2 million in fines. Lueddeke, 37, could face a maximum of 15 years in jail and $750,000 in fines. Carter, who has agreed to cooperate with authorities, could face a maximum 10 years in jail and a $500,000 fine.
Valukas said the government would seek forfeiture of Walters' and Bloom's interest in their business firms as well as $275,000 in proceeds resulting from the alleged schemes. He also said the four men would be given several days to surrender to federal authorities.
The telephone at Walters' World Sports & Entertainment Inc. office in New York went unanswered Wednesday. Lueddeke did not return a telephone call to his firm, Pro-Line Sports.
Attorney M.L. Trope, who is representing Bloom, said Wednesday: "Lloyd Bloom is a kid who . . . did not commit any crime. He'll vigorously fight to vindicate himself."
Carter, in a statement released by the Eagles said: "I am cooperating fully. . . . and could only say that I regret my past mistakes."
National Football League spokesman Jim Heffernan said the league would have no comment on Carter.
The group of players that agreed to testify if the case goes to trial includes NFL players Ron Morris of Chicago, Ronnie Harmon of Buffalo and Paul Palmer of Kansas City plus Brad Sellers of the NBA's Chicago Bulls.
Also included are Timmy Smith of the Washington Redskins, who set a Super Bowl rushing record with 204 yards last season, and seven players taken in the first round of the 1987 NFL draft--Palmer; John Clay of San Diego; Terrence Flagler of San Francisco; Brent Fullwood of Green Bay; Mark Ingram of the New York Giants; Tony Woods of Seattle, and Rod Woodson of Pittsburgh.
No players from any California college were named by Valukas.
"We considered things like their age . . . their backgrounds, the amount of money involved and any prior record," Valukas said.
Valukas said when inducements of cash or goods failed, Walters and Bloom resorted to threats.
In one 1987 phone conversation, the indictment charged, Walters told Seattle Seahawks linebacker Tony Woods--while Woods was still a student at Pitt: "This is my life on the line. . . . Now it's your life on the line. . . . your reputation, your business . . . your family, your brother, your school, everything is going to be tainted and tainted bad.
"It's gonna be terrible for you."
Valukas said the indictment also alleges that Walters and Bloom, together with reputed New York crime syndicate figure Michael Franzese, tried to obtain a representation contract for the 1981 Jackson Five Tour.
"When another booking agent was selected, Walters and Franzese--whom Walters described as 'an associate'--went to see the group's manager and told him that they were going to be involved in the upcoming Jackson Five Tour or there would be no tour," the indictment stated.
The threatening overture was rejected by the group, Valukas said.
Franzese, currently serving a 10-year prison term in California after pleading guilty to racketeering and tax charges, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator.