After an offseason marred by a pay-for-performance/bounty scandal and subsequent allegations of G.M. Mickey Loomis having the capacity to engage in illegal wiretapping, Saints owner Tom Benson wanted clarity as to the goings-on within his team.
He’s getting it from former FBI director Louis Freeh.
A league source recently tipped us off to Freeh’s involvement with the team. Freeh, who now runs his own investigative firm and law practice, was retained in late April to conduct a top-to-bottom investigation of the Saints, focusing initially on the wiretapping allegations. Eventually, we’re told, Freeh will turn to the bounty case.
Team spokesman Greg Bensel acknowledged and explained Freeh’s involvement.
“Serious allegations have been made about our organization this off-season; we take these allegations very seriously,” Bensel said via email. “As a result, we have hired the Freeh Group, founded by former director of the FBI and former federal judge Louis Freeh. Mr. Benson moved quickly to hire them and has spared no expense to get to the bottom of these allegations. We have given the Freeh Group complete access to our team and all of the individuals who have been associated with this news story.”
The findings of Freeh’s investigation aren’t currently known. The wiretapping allegations against Loomis, first reported in April by John Barr of ESPN, have yet to gain any real traction with law enforcement.
Coincidentally, Freeh has drawn praise in the past from former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White, whom the NFL has hired to provide an independent review of the bounty evidence.
“Louis is, probably more than anything else, an investigator’s investigator,” White said, per the Wall Street Journal. “He is very hands-on, and he was very hands-on as a director of the FBI.”
Last year, Penn State hired the Freeh Group to perform an independent investigation regarding the Jerry Sandusky case, and the years of apparent cover-ups. As of last month, more than 400 interviews had been conducted.
The difference between White’s role with the NFL and Freeh’s role with the Saints is that White reviewed the product of the league’s investigation. Freeh is actually conducting the investigation. Unlike White, who had a pre-existing relationship with the NFL, Freeh enters the picture with no prior relationship to worry about maintaining, which allows him to be truly independent and thorough and, ultimately, successful in getting to the truth.
That’s apparently want Tom Benson wants: the truth. Regardless of whether he, or anyone else, can handle it.