Paul Solotaroff joins PFT to discuss his article on Aaron Hernandez in Rolling Stone.
Paul Solotaroff joins PFT to discuss his article on Aaron Hernandez in Rolling Stone.
The massive Rolling Stone investigation of Aaron Hernandez is now online, and one of the major takeaways of the piece is that the Patriots shoulder a lot of the blame for looking the other way about Hernandez’s off-field issues, and failing to see that Hernandez was a legal mess waiting to happen.
Hernandez now sits in jail awaiting trial, accused of murdering Odin Lloyd. The article, written by Rolling Stone contributing editor Paul Solotaroff and Boston Herald columnist Ron Borges, suggests that the Patriots botched the process of keeping their own house in order.
Specifically, coach Bill Belichick is blamed for replacing the team’s security chief, a former Massachusetts state trooper named Frank Mendes, with Mark Briggs, a Brit whose background was in providing security for Wembley Stadium. The story suggests that if the Patriots had kept Mendes, they would have known a lot more about Hernandez’s dealings with what Rolling Stone describes as “thugs” and “stone-cold gangsters.”
Rolling Stone also goes hard on Patriots owner Robert Kraft, calling his claim that he was duped “arrant nonsense.” According to Rolling Stone‘s reporting, Hernandez was regularly using illegal drugs, hanging out with criminals and getting mixed up in so many bad situations that the only way the Patriots wouldn’t have known is if they didn’t want to know.
In fairness to the Patriots, however, it’s a lot easier to recognize Hernandez’s warning signs with 20/20 hindsight after he has already been charged with murder. Hernandez was, after all, a free man, so it wasn’t just the Patriots he was hiding these alleged illegal activities from. It was law enforcement as well. And Hernandez had managed to last three years in the NFL without ever being suspended under the league’s substance-abuse or personal-conduct policies.
Rolling Stone also details a confrontation Hernandez had with the Lloyd two days before Lloyd was shot and killed, and the magazine’s investigation offers some evidence that hadn’t previously been publicly disclosed, including that Hernandez’s home-security system caught him screaming “You can’t trust anyone anymore!” shortly after he and Lloyd exchanged angry words at a nightclub. (Hernandez apparently destroyed some, but not all, of the footage from his home security system before police searched his house.)
Despite the chilling murder scene Rolling Stone describes at the opening of the article, the end of the article quotes legal experts suggesting that the prosecution’s case is not open-and-shut, and that Hernandez could be acquitted by convincing a jury that it was actually one of his friends, Ernest Wallace or Carlos Ortiz, who killed Lloyd.
The Hernandez story is far from over, but the Rolling Stone story is one of the deepest looks yet at what has transpired so far. And it’s a story that does not reflect well on anyone involved. Certainly not the Patriots.
The folks at Rolling Stone have taken a close look at the life of former Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez. The story has yet to be released, but Rolling Stone has offered up a six-pack of teases, via Deadspin.
The most significant unknown tidbit was that Hernandez already was on a short leash with coach Bill Belichick, to the point where Hernandez was “one misstep from being cut.” The item points to “missed practices and thug-life stunts.”
That contention partially contradicts a report from Ben Volin of the Boston Globe that the Patriots had no qualms about Hernandez as a player, and that the only concerns arose from his lingering friendship with friends from his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut. It also makes us wonder when the concerns arose, given that the Patriots gave Hernandez a $12.5 million signing bonus in August 2012.
Also, Rolling Stone reports that Hernandez was a “heavy user of angel dust” (which may or may not have been purchased from Louis Winthorpe III), that Hernandez’s paranoia prompted him to carry a gun “wherever he went,” that he “surrounded himself with a cohort of gangsters,” that his parents and “much of his extended family” had criminal records, and that his mother, Terri, cheated on Hernandez’s father before he died with a “violent drug dealer” whom she would later marry.
Finally, the report contends that former Florida coach Urban Meyer “may have helped cover up failed drug tests, along with two violent incidents — an assault and a drive-by shooting outside a local bar.”
That last part likely is a reference to an alleged assault occurring in May 2007 and the shooting from September 2007, both of which happened in Gainesville. While the report hedges with the use of “may have,” it’s the first time anyone has suggested that Meyer had an affirmative role in keeping Hernandez’s alleged misdeeds quiet.
We’ve got a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot more on this one, from Foxboro to Columbus (where Meyer now works) to points in between and beyond.
It’s no surprise that the NFLPA has filed a grievance for $82,000 in workout bonuses earned by tight end Aaron Hernandez before the Patriots cut him. The money was earned, and it should be paid.
But the Patriots, as we explained back in June, won’t be inclined to willingly pay Hernandez another penny. Instead, they’ll force him to fight for the money that he’s due to receive.
The workout bonus represents round one. The stakes go up dramatically in March 2014, when Hernandez is due to receive the final $3.25 million of his August 2012 signing bonus. Again, the money has been earned, but the Patriots will force Hernandez and the NFLPA to fight for it.
The union’s statement, issued to USA Today, comes off as almost apologetic for the effort to get money for a man who has been indicted for one murder and is being investigated for two others. Still, the money has been earned, and it should be paid. The NFLPA has every right and reason to pursue the situation.
Hernandez also has earned a $118,000 roster bonus; it’s unclear whether a grievance has been filed for that amount. As we’ve previously reported, the NFLPA most likely won’t be contesting the team’s ability to void $2.5 million in guaranteed salary for the 2013 regular season.
Regardless, more that $3.3 million likely will be coming to Hernandez. And the families of Odin Lloyd, Safiro Furtado, and Daniel Abreu would be wise to file a lawsuit ASAP seeking a court order forcing the money paid by the Patriots to be held in escrow pending the outcome of any wrongful-death lawsuits.
Of the four men who were in a car together on an early Monday morning in Massachusetts, one is dead, two have been indicted for his murder, and the fourth may be the key to putting the other two away for a long time.
Lost in last week’s news that former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was indicted for killing Odin Lloyd was the indictment of Ernest Wallace for serving as an accessory after the fact to Lloyd’s murder. On Monday, a judge bumped Wallace’s probable cause hearing, which like Hernandez’s probable cause hearing became moot after the indictment.
Also indicted last week was Tanya Cummings-Singleton. The cousin of Aaron Hernandez faces charges of criminal contempt of court for refusing to testify before the grand jury.
Authorities believe Cummings-Singleton purchased a bus ticket for Wallace, who left the area after he murder. Also, Carlos Ortiz reportedly told police that he discussed Lloyd’s murder with Cummings-Singleton.
Based on multiple police affidavits submitted in support of search warrants, Ortiz clearly has said a lot of things to police about the events of June 17, 2013. Ortiz remains in custody without bail on only weapons charges, and he has not yet been indicted.
Ultimately, the ability to prove Hernandez’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt may turn on Ortiz’s willingness to testify at trial, and his ability to do so credibly.
It’s fitting that a season marred by murder charges against one of the Patriots’ top tight ends could be salvaged in part by an undrafted wideout who was arrested seven times before his 19th birthday.
Kenbrell Thompkins was signed before Aaron Hernandez’s arrest and possibly wouldn’t have been signed after it. The rookie has emerged as one of the best receivers on the roster. He started Thursday night’s preseason game against the Lions, catching eight passes for 116 yards.
The cousin of Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, Thompkins’ history was recently detailed by the Boston Herald. At age seven, he shot himself in the arm. In middle school, he was selling drugs. An arrest for armed robbery prompted one of multiple expulsions from high school. Later, Thompkins was busted for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and he served 28 days in jail.
A convoluted path through college football ended in Cincinnati, where Brown helped persuade coach Butch Jones (who coached Brown at Central Michigan) to give Thompkins a chance. Though Thompkins caught only 34 passes for 541 yards and two touchdowns in his final season with the Bearcats, he has quickly shot up the depth chart in New England, starting the team’s two most recent preseason games.
With second-rounder Aaron Dobson and free-agent arrival Danny Amendola destined to get plenty of playing time, Thompkins could be nailing down one of the outside spots when Amendola lines up, as he inevitably will, in the slot.
Thompkins’ history fits the profile of the kind of player that the post-Hernandez Patriots may try to avoid. But the rookie’s potential performance, if coupled with good behavior, could make it harder for teams like the Patriots to know when to give a guy with a troubled past a chance to turn his life around, and when to avoid the player at all costs.
By all appearances, Thompkins has changed his life. Given their experience with Hernandez, the Patriots may be in much better position to draw a reliable line between guys who truly have separated from past troubles, and those like Hernandez who merely say all the right things.
As expected for weeks, a grand jury has indicted former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez for the murder of Odin Lloyd, via the Boston Globe.
The indictment comes on the same day Hernandez was due in court for a probable cause hearing, making the hearing moot.
By indicting Hernandez, the grand jury has found that probable cause exists to believe Hernandez killed Lloyd.
Hernandez will remain jailed without bail. Eventually, a trial date will be set.
Another grand jury reportedly is considering whether Hernandez killed two men in July 2012. He could be indicted for those murders at any time.
Last month, prosecutors sought a one-month delay of the probable cause hearing in the murder case against Aaron Hernandez. Today, their time is up.
As explained by the Fall River (Mass.) Herald News, the probable cause hearing remains set for today. It’s a threshold test of the evidence against Hernandez; if probable cause exists to believe he killed Odin Lloyd, Hernandez will stand trial at a later date. If a judge determines probable cause does not exist, the charges will be dropped.
From a strategic standpoint, the probable cause hearing gives Hernandez’s lawyers an advance crack at poking holes in the evidence, with the goal of creating reasonable doubt at trial. It’s highly unlikely that a judge would find no probable cause exists to believe Hernandez killed Lloyd, given the evidence as previously outlined by prosecutors at Hernandez’s bail hearing.
The delay in the probable cause hearing likely arose from the anticipation that Hernandez will be indicted on the charges by a grand jury, which applies the same “probable cause” standard. But Hernandez has not yet been indicted, and Hernandez’s lawyers strenuously objected to the delay when it was requested last month.
They’ll object even more strenuously to another attempt to run out the clock while the grand jury secretly hears evidence from the prosecution — with no opportunity to challenge the evidence for the defense.
Don’t be shocked, then, if the long-awaited indictment of Hernandez comes today, before the hearing is scheduled to begin.
Here’s a story regarding death, the legal system, and the Patriots that doesn’t involve Aaron Hernandez.
Back in 2010, 40-year-old Jeffrey Chartier died of a heart attack after a confrontation with a security guard over whether Chartier’s six-year-old son could step on the field.
According to the Springfield (Mass.) Republican, Chartier’s wife has sued the Patriots, the NFL, the security guard, the security company, and the stadium operators for wrongful death. The lawsuit, filed in late June, alleges that the heart attack was caused by the confrontation with the security guard. The complaint seeks at least $10 million in damages.
Mrs. Chartier claims that their son, Tedy, had been invited onto the field by two NFL game officials prior to the Week One home game, and that the security guard eventually confronted Jeffrey Chartier about the boy’s presence on the field, because the boy lacked the required credentials. The exchange, which allegedly lasted more than 15 minutes, was according to the lawsuit “confrontational, harsh, unprofessional, disrespectful, and antagonistic.”
The security guard allegedly continued to interact with Jeffrey Chartier in hostile fashion even after Tedy had left the field.
The names of game officials aren’t mentioned, and none are joined as defendants to the lawsuit. According to the official Game Book for the Week One 2010 contest between the Bengals and Patriots, the officiating crew consisted of referee Carl Cheffers, umpire Undrey Wash, head linesman Kent Payne, line judge Darryll Lewis, side judge Jeff Lamberth, field judge Boris Cheek, and back judge Todd Prukop.
Lawyers for the Patriots and other defendants declined comment. It’s unknown whether the suit comes after efforts to resolve the case without litigation.
If the allegations are accurate, the security guard apparently used excessive efforts to deal with a minimal threat to the playing surface. However, the problem will be establishing a link between the guard’s behavior and Chartier’s heart attack. The legal term is “proximate causation”; Mrs. Chartier’s lawyers will have to prove that her husband’s death as a result of an angry interaction falls within the reasonable range of risks created by the guard’s alleged behavior.
I haven’t researched Massachusetts law on that point (lawyer code for “I don’t know”), but it seems at first blush that people shouldn’t anticipate the link between acting like a jerk and causing someone to die from a heart attack. There’s a good chance that the outcome will be driven in large part by how large of a jerk the security guard was.
Authorities are still looking for the gun used to kill Odin Lloyd, allegedly by or at the behest of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. But they’ve reportedly found the weapon used in a separate double murder linked to Hernandez.
According to CBS 3, the gun was recovered in connection with the June 21 arrest of 19-year-old Jailene Diaz-Ramos. She had crashed her car in Springfield, Massachusetts, and police found a .38-caliber revolver upon searching the vehicle. Ballistics testing determined that the gun matched the weapon that fired bullets found at the scene of the July 2012 murder of Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston.
It’s unknown whether Diaz-Ramos, who lives in Hernandez’s hometown of Bristol, Connecticut, has any connection to Hernandez. She told police that the gun belongs to a friend she referred to only as “Chicago.”
But she also said she gave her friends a ride to work, and that her friends are football players.
Curiously, police also found a locked safe in the trunk of the car; a warrant to search the safe has not yet been issued. But with the gun used to kill Lloyd still missing and with the arrest of Diaz-Ramos coming only a few days after Lloyd was shot, it’s hard not to wonder whether the .45-caliber Glock that killed Lloyd is inside that safe.
The UFC currently faces some resistance from a politician in Boston. And that has caused the guy who runs the UFC to take a shot at pro sports team headquartered, sort of, in Boston.
“[W]hen people ask me about it, I’m like, ‘Wait a minute. We’re in Boston, aren’t we?” White told MMAJunkie.com regarding efforts by Boston City Councilman Steve Murphy to impose obstacles on a UFC event to be held Saturday in Boston. “Don’t the Patriots play here? F—ing Aaron Hernandez just murdered somebody and possibly murdered two other people. Are the Patriots going to get chased out of town now?”
(Apparently not, given that White was hanging out with Pats owner Robert Kraft before Friday night’s game against the Buccaneers.)
The local push against UFC includes reliance on an obscure state law requiring foreign-born martial-artists and boxers to have Social Security numbers.
“They pulled this whole Social Security bullsh-t on us first,” White said. “How about f—ing hockey? Hockey players are from Russia, Czechoslovakia, Canada and all these other places. They get in here and do it. How about basketball? They’ve got guys from all over the world playing basketball.
“They’re trying to chase us out of here. Are they going to do this to boxing events, too? Are they going to try and chase boxing out of here? How many boxing events are they doing here? Not many.”
They do plenty of Patriots games near Boston, and firing at the Patriots isn’t exactly the best way for White to suck up to the local powers-that-be.
Authorities in Bristol, Connecticut spent the last week searching a pond for the gun they believe was used to kill Odin Lloyd, but their search has come to an end without the evidence they hoped to retrieve.
The pond is near the previously searched Pine Lake and both bodies of water are two miles from the home of the uncle of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who has been charged with murder. Two other suspects charged in the crime, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, stayed at the home and Ortiz was arrested there.
“No evidence was recovered and, at the present time, no more dives are planned,” Lt. Kevin Morrell of the Bristol Police Department said, via UPI.com.
Ortiz told investigators that Hernandez put two guns in a box in his basement after the shooting and court documents allege that Hernandez’s fiancee Shayanna Jenkins was seen on surveillance video leaving the house with a box and placing it in the trunk of her car. She returned less than an hour later without the box, which wasn’t enough time for her to drive to Bristol and back which make is unclear what evidence led authorities to believe that the weapon may have been disposed of in those waters.
We haven’t heard much about veteran tight end Dallas Clark this offseason, but it looks as if the former Colt and Buccaneer is back on the radar.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Clark intends to play this season, which would be his 11th as an NFL player. Schefter also reports that Clark could sign a deal to join a team this week.
There’s no mention of what team might be interested in signing Clark, but the two teams that played in last year’s AFC Championship Game each make some sense. The Ravens lost Dennis Pitta for the year and Ed Dickson is sidelined at present by a hamstring injury, but Clark’s receiving ability could come in handy even when Dickson is back in the lineup. The Patriots don’t know when Rob Gronkowski will be on the field after back surgery and Aaron Hernandez is in prison, so New England could revisit a player they visited with when he was a free agent in 2012.
Clark has 474 catches and 50 touchdowns over the course of his career and played all 16 games with the Bucs last season.
Operation Put the Screws to Shayanna Jenkins apparently has commenced.
The fiancee of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, Jenkins initially was talking to police in the aftermath of Odin Lloyd’s murder — until Hernandez gave her the same advice Archie Bunker routinely provided to Edith.
Now, Jenny Wilson of the Hartford Courant reports that prosecutors believe Jenkins engaged in “overt attempts to hide evidence . . . and to hinder and mislead” the investigation. The contention, which appear in court documents released Friday, was made in connection with a request to search a storage unit rented in her name.
The records allege that Hernandez called Jenkins the day after Lloyd’s body was found because Hernandez wanted to get rid of the weapons in the home he and Jenkins share. The materials also reportedly explain that surveillance footage from Hernandez’s home shows Jenkins leaving the house with a trash bag containing a “rigid object” resembling a lock box or safe. According to the records, authorities contend she then placed the bag in the trunk of a car, drove away, returned 35 minutes later, and opened the trunk — which no longer contained the bag or the “rigid object.” (There’s a chance she’s an amateur magician, and opening the truck was simply the prestige.)
The paperwork likewise refers to “cryptic texts” exchanged by Hernandez and Jenkins regarding a box in the basement.
These allegations seem to mesh with Carlos Ortiz’s alleged explanation that Hernandez placed two guns in a black box after Lloyd was shot.
It all adds up to significant leverage against Jenkins, who may eventually have to choose between facing obstruction of justice charges or cooperating with police regarding anything and everything she knows about Lloyd’s murder.
“It would be premature at this time for us to comment or speculate on whether more charges will be filed in this case,” prosecutors said Friday, via the Courant. “We are letting the evidence guide us before making our decision.”
The evidence seems to be guiding them toward pursuing charges against Jenkins.
Yes, football is back. But the biggest NFL trial since the double-murder case against Ray Lewis is looming.
Before former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez can stand trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd, Hernandez must be indicted. Before he can be indicted, a grand jury must conclude that probable cause exists to believe he committed the crime.
That process entails a parade of witnesses who will help provide a tapestry of evidence that will make an indictment a no-brainer. As long as those witnesses are willing to testify.
One of them — Hernadnez’s coustin, Tanya Cummings-Singelton — has been jailed for contempt of court. According to the Hartford Courant, Cummings-Singleton refused to testify before the grand jury. She has been held behind bars since August 1.
Prosecutors believe Cummings-Singleton purchased a bus ticket for Ernest Wallace, who is charged with being an accessory after the fact. Carloz Ortiz reportedly told police that he discussed the murder of Lloyd with Cummings-Singleton.
Her husband, Thaddeus Singleton, died in a car accident in late June. She previously was married to Hernandez’s stepfather, Jeff Cummings.
Apart from her indefinite incarceration for refusing to cooperate with the grand jury, Cummings-Singleton becomes an even bigger target for potential prosecution under theories like obstruction of justice. The phone, for example, that Wallace allegedly used to communicate with Hernandez and Lloyd was registered to Cummings-Singleton. It has not been located by authorities.
Last week, Connecticut police spent several days in the muck and the mire of a Bristol, Connecticut lake that was believed to be holding in its bed the gun used to kill Odin Lloyd in June.
According to CNN, divers didn’t locate the gun in Pine Lake a/k/a Malone’s Pond in a search that started July 29 and continued this week.
Per the report, investigators will return to the area next week to search a smaller body of water near Pine Lake.
Someone, possibly Carlos Ortiz, presumably told police that the gun was thrown in a body of water in Bristol, Connecticut. The murder happened in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, less than a mile from the home of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.
Hernandez remains held without bail, awaiting an August 22 probable cause hearing. He could be indicted for murder at any time.
Cue The Twilight Zone music.
According to the Hartford Courant, Hernandez’s uncle died in a moped accident.
Robert J. Valentine, 49, was driving a moped that struck a curb, throwing him to the ground. Valentine, the brother of Hernandez’s mother, was not wearing a helmet.
There’s no indication that Valentine had any connection to or information about the murders for which Hernandez currently is being investigated. Police reportedly wanted to speak with the other family member who died last month, Thaddeus Simon III. Simon was the son-in-law of Andres Valderrama, the uncle of Aaron Hernandez’s whose home has been searched multiple times by police.
Police still don’t know where the gun used to kill Odin Lloyd is. But they believe they know where it was.
Via the Associated Press, an affidavit released Friday by the Attleboro District Court alleges that Aaron Hernandez associate Carlos Ortiz informed police Hernandez put guns in a black box after Lloyd was shot.
Lloyd was shot with a .45 caliber Glock. Other guns were present in the car and in Hernandez’s home on the night of the slaying.
Presumably, Ortiz at some point said more about the disposal of the guns. The four-day search of a pond in Bristol, Connecticut (unsuccessful, so far) possibly was prompted by Ortiz telling the authorities the gun was thrown into it.
Other affidavits previously released indicate that Ortiz told police he was asleep in the car when Hernandez, Ernest Wallace, and Lloyd exited at an industrial park near Hernandez’s home. Shots were fired, Hernandez and Wallace returned to the car, and Wallace later told Ortiz that Hernandez was the one who fired on Lloyd.
All affidavits were filed in support of the issuance of various search warrants. The latest apparently was used to support seizure of a phone, credits cards, and bank cards from Tanya Singleton-Valderramma, a woman with whom Ortiz had been living. Ortiz said he discussed the killing of Lloyd with her.
Ortiz, who faces only weapons charges, is being held without bail. The affidavits show that Ortiz has cooperated extensively with police. The biggest questions remaining are whether he’ll testify in court against Hernandez, whether his testimony will be viewed as credible, and whether Hernandez will be able to distance himself from any credibility issues related to the testimony, given that Hernandez summoned Ortiz from Connecticut to Massachusetts on the night of the murder.
According to the Boston Herald, the gossip site paid $18,000 for the letter to Sportsworld, Inc.
Store manager Brendan Brennan said that the handwriting was verified as Hernandnez’s. Though it’s unclear how Sportsworld, Inc. obtained the letter that was sent to an ex-con named “Karl,” Brennan felt no obligation to comply with Hernandez’s request that the contents not be publicized.
“It wasn’t written to us, so we didn’t have to honor anything from that letter,” Brennan said.
The episode makes us wonder whether the letter to Hernandez that sparked the response was legitimate, or whether it was the equivalent of throwing a baited hook into Hernandez’s cell.
Either way, chances are Hernandez will be getting more letters from strangers. And chances are he won’t be responding to them.
Tim Tebow’s working out at Gillette Stadium, but he’s apparently living under a rock.
The Patriots quarterback decided to pass when asked for comment on his old college roommate Riley Cooper, who — perhaps you’ve heard — has gotten himself into some hot water this week.
“I haven’t seen everything that’s happened,” Tebow said, via Emily Kaplan of the Boston Globe. “I’ve been pretty busy. I’m going to wait to comment until I hear what happened.”
Um, Tim, here’s the short version.
Or maybe he’s just waiting to deny the Gators three times before the rooster crows and he weeps bitterly.