Congress shares details with FTC of alleged Washington Commanders financial scams against customers and the NFL

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The U.S. House Oversight & Reform Committee is indeed exploring potential financial improprieties within the Washington Commanders organization. The Committee now wants a federal agency to get involved.

According to the Washington Post, the Committee sent a 20-page letter to the Federal Trade Commission regarding allegations that the team may have withheld as much as $5 million in refundable deposits from season-ticket holders, and that the team may have hidden cash that was to be shared by all NFL franchises.

Former Washington employee Jason Friedman, who spent nearly a quarter-century with the organization, told the Committee that the team kept two sets of books, and that one set of financial information underreported ticket revenue to the league. The process of intentionally allocating revenue to the wrong event was known, according to Friedman, as “juice,” with the team allegedly spreading revenue that should have been shared with the league to non-NFL events at FedEx Field.

As bad as that sounds, it’s separate from an alleged scam to keep security deposits from season-ticket holders.

Friedman, according to the letter, “provided the Committee with information and documents indicating that the Commanders routinely withheld security deposits that should have been returned to customers who had purchased multiyear season tickets for specific seats, referred to as seat leases,” and that “team executives directed employees to establish roadblocks to prevent customers from obtaining the security deposits they were due — effectively allowing the team to retain that money.”

Those claims will remind some of the rebate controversy that resulted in a multi-year investigation of Pilot Flying J, the truck-stop company previously owned and operated by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. Haslam somehow avoided prosecution in that case. If Friedman’s evidence is accurate and persuasive, members of the Commanders organization may have to worry about indictments, too. Including owner Daniel Snyder.

The practices apparently ended in 2017, according to Friedman.

Here’s an example of how the “juice” practice allegedly worked. Friedman told the Committee that he “falsely processed” $162,360 in Commanders ticket revenue as arising from a Navy-Notre Dame game at FedEx Field. The team’s former chief financial officer, Steven Choi, allegedly directed Friedman to do it this way, in a May 6, 2014 email.

“So this is the two sets of books,” Friedman told the Committee, based on the letter obtained by the Post. “So in this particular case, there’s a set of books that’s submitted to the NFL that doesn’t include the $162,000, but then there’s a set of books that’s kept internally shown to Mr. Snyder and Mr. Snyder’s — I believe just Mr. Snyder, actually, and the people in his inner circle maybe, that shows what we actually did, which would include the $162,000 of juice.”

If Friedman has documents to back up his claim, that’s a major problem for the organization and for Snyder. Likewise, it’s impossible for the league to remain quiet about this — even if some in the league office would likely prefer that nothing come of it.

Those who should have caught it will face tough questions from the other teams. Especially given the all-too-cozy relationship between NFL general counsel Jeff Pash and former team president Bruce Allen.

Where it goes from now remains to be seen. The FTC should investigate. A local prosecutor should investigate. The NFL should investigate. Lawsuits should be filed, especially by those whose security deposits may have been stolen — if Friedman’s allegations are accurate.

Ultimately, it could be time for the NFL to finally rid itself of Daniel Snyder. It’s arguably long overdue.

75 responses to “Congress shares details with FTC of alleged Washington Commanders financial scams against customers and the NFL

  1. This case and the deluge of others like it in business, politics and sports begs a question: Why is it so hard for so many people in positions of power to do the right thing?

  2. If there are emails, like this article refers to, that is a nice paper trail.

    If so, somebody or multiple people are in big trouble, IMO.

  3. “Former Washington employee Jason Friedman, who spent nearly a quarter-century with the organization, told the Committee that the team kept two sets of books..”

    What in the Warden Norton from Shawshank was going on here?

  4. It seems like the Washington Commanders are hellbent on choking that goose that laid the golden egg. The NFL needs to clear these allegations up and take appropriate legal action as warranted and the sooner the better, especially now with all the different gambling and betting relationships they’ve established. When corruption taints the product, people walk away, no matter how popular. Boxing is a good example of that.

  5. The cities of Philadelphia, Dallas, and New York strongly recommend keeping Mr. Snyder in place for a very long time.

  6. Just give homey the boot already. Even if they somehow make it through all of these embroiled crises unscathed, you just know he’s going to create more problems down the road with his toxicity/ineptitude.

  7. Why not audit every single team in all sports? Think this stuff isn’t common?

  8. Goodell should cut a backroom deal.

    He drops Snyder

    Congress drops the investigations, because Danny Boy is not the only one skimming.

  9. LOL, they even screwed with Goodell’s money from before when he was commish…how is Snyder still hanging around?

  10. This calls for a full audit of all NFL teams. Otherwise, this is like releasing only Gruden’s emails, as if it doesn’t happen everywhere. Be more naive.

    Also, imagine a billionaire with a multi-billion dollar company going out of his way to procure $162,000. LOL. Sounds legit.

  11. Washington’s fans need to revolt. Dan Snyder has been a horrible owner for this franchise. No success on the field and too many controversies off the field. Time to insist that Snyder sell the franchise.

  12. A lot of people are going to say that the amount of money involved in these two allegations is so small compared to Snyder’s fortune that he wouldn’t take the risk. However, history is full of people who have taken ridiculous risks for little return just because they thought they could get away with it.

  13. I hope Goodell realizes is pointless to keep resisting. These stories will continue to emerge and be investigated until Snyder is out.

  14. Jimmy Haslam be like

    Why does mine and D Snyders name always come up regarding these issues?

    We don’t do anything wrong

  15. It’s nearly unfathomable to me that these billionaires are willing to stoop so low. They have everything yet still can’t help themselves to every cookie in that jar. I have been blessed to own several small companies have enjoyed some decent success. I constantly think about karma, business, money, personal… There are times I believe those who have achieved this level of status have indeed sold their sole. That’s the only way this behavior makes any sense.

  16. Teflon Dan has gotten away with a lot of shady and despicable things. But stealing from his partners is a bridge too far. Bye bye.

  17. Unless Friedman has physical evidence his testimony is worth the paper it’s printed on.

  18. Sorry Browns, Lions and Texans fans. Washington is the worst run team in the league.

  19. While he didn’t need $162k, it is probably something done many times over the years, leading to many multitudes of that amount. This was probably just one example. If this can be proven the WFT may be forced to pay huge retroactive fines and payments to the NFL, season ticket holders, etc.

  20. Not a thing is going to happen to Snyder, just as not a thing happened with Haslam. Because there are different rules for dudes like that–and they know it.

  21. Southpaw says:
    April 12, 2022 at 1:11 pm
    This calls for a full audit of all NFL teams. Otherwise, this is like releasing only Gruden’s emails, as if it doesn’t happen everywhere. Be more naive.

    Also, imagine a billionaire with a multi-billion dollar company going out of his way to procure $162,000. LOL. Sounds legit.

    Why should the other 31 teams be audited? Has any employee from those teams testified about any wrongdoing? And even if they did, how does that justify Washington’s conduct?

    The $162,000 represents the amount from only one game. It merely scratches the surface of the total amount of fraud.

  22. Just boot Snyder so that congress can do important things like, I don’t know, run the country!

  23. To the people asking why it was only $162k… If your employer withheld $2 a check would you notice? Now what if they withheld $200.

  24. So in that thorough investigation the NFL did of the Washington workplace and collecting 650,000 emails they didn’t find any info on this, just that Jon Gruden said some mean things. And no public released report on any of what they found.

  25. The league suspended a Atlanta Falcons receiver indefinitely for making a $1500 parlay bet on his team to win citing integrity of the shield. What is the punishment for defrauding fans who are season ticket holders? Combine this with a miserable record since Snyder took over and sexual harassment allegations, it makes you wonder what Snyder knows about practices of the league and other owners that he may reveal. (Because he appears to be that type of guy). Mind you, Carolina’s owner was shown the door for less pervasive harassment claims than those against the WFT.

  26. Jeff Bezos in the background ready to buy this football team when the time comes. That time appears to be rapidly nearing.

  27. Goodell should be going down too as he knew the results of the Wilkinson investigation and has continued to protect Snyder and handed out fake punishments like staying out of day to day operations which Snyder has clearly not done.

  28. Martha Stewart went to jail for a percentage of her income that would be about $50 to the average person. Welcome to the Big House.

    So, would YOU do insider trading for FIFTY DOLLARS? I wouldn’t get out of bed for $50.

    These ultra wealthy people are usually very cheap and have a hard time parting with a nickel. Anyone who has worked for tips only (I parked cars in HS) knows this. Some wealthy people tip way beyond and are really nice people, most are cheapskates and cold.

  29. This will be the final nail in Synder’s ownership coffin. The NFL doesn’t care if an owner cheats fans out of money, but when the owners get cheated out of money, heads will roll.

  30. How can anyone hand over any of their hard earned money to the Washington franchise ? Why would you buy any tickets, Jerseys or any paraphernalia that ultimately gives money to Snyder?

  31. Hysterical…NFL is mum on this and the Stephan Ross issues…yet went guns blazing against any players that did something so minor.

    Absolutely pathetic NFL.

  32. jjackwagon says:
    April 12, 2022 at 1:15 pm
    “Commanders” still doesn’t sound right. WFT was better.

    ‘Washington Team Football’ would be even better, as it abbreviates to WTF.

  33. Better than the “Commanders”, The “Washington Dysfunction” would have been much more appropriate name and have far reaching meaning in and beyond the NFL.

  34. Billionaires trying to save a few million with a paper trail is incredibly stupid if true. This seems like it’s on brand for Snyder.

  35. The farther up the ladder you go, the more corrupt it gets. True in most industries unfortunately

  36. I always enjoy it when Congress provides commentary on the moral/unethical behavior and/or financial dealings of another entity… as if they aren’t one of the most corrupt, disgusting collection of individuals in the country. But, hey, they have oversight and make the laws, so…

  37. mhouser1922 says:
    April 12, 2022 at 1:06 pm
    This case and the deluge of others like it in business, politics and sports begs a question: Why is it so hard for so many people in positions of power to do the right thing?
    GREED! That is why it is difficult for wealthy people to do the right thing, the moral thing, or heck, even the legal thing.

  38. I still have not heard what crime may have been committed that requires a federal investigation. If he didn’t share money with the league it’s a league problem, not the congress. Withholding deposits aren’t necessarily fraud. That’s why it’s a deposit. If you back out you don’t alwYs get your money back. The republicans on the committee have already come out and said there is no evidence here, and that it appears to be some kind of political hit. I’m not a Snyder fan, but having our government waste time on issues that shouldn’t concern itself is wrong.

  39. Danny seems like that horrible sleazy greedy landlord (we have all experienced at some point) who comes up with every trick in the book to keep your security deposit. Eventually you give up and he keeps your money. Let me tangle with someone his own size — go FTC.

  40. theoriginalsurferbob says:
    April 12, 2022 at 1:10 pm
    Why not audit every single team in all sports? Think this stuff isn’t common

    They absolutely should. You don’t think accounting discrepancies can bring down big organizations? Look at Arthur Anderson or Enron and many others

  41. Hell, anyone who’s tried to terminate a month to month contract with a fitness center or a tanning company that has automatic credit card payments, understands about intentional roadblocks that hinder or delay them from getting it stopped. What else is new in the world?

  42. Haslam wasn’t charged because they allowed him to throw his executives under the bus. Of course he knew about what was going on, just like Danny Boy knows. They’re the hotshot billionaire bosses. They get all the credit for their business sense, but when something sleazy happens they’re completely uninvolved? Sure.

    And to all the “why is Congress involved” people: the NFL gets special tax considerations and it allowed to operate a monopoly with the blessing of the feds. That’s why.

  43. Southpaw says:
    April 12, 2022 at 1:11

    Also, imagine a billionaire with a multi-billion dollar company going out of his way to procure $162,000. LOL. Sounds legit.


    Okay, tell that to Martha Stewart.

  44. “..Commanders” still doesn’t sound right. WFT was better…”

    In this case, WTF sounds even better.

  45. If that ticket revenue skim example was typical, multiply it by 8 (the number of home games) and it comes to just shy of $1.3M per season that went to the team rather than them getting just 1/32 of that. So around $1.25M more for the team than it should have gotten. And how many of his 22 years was this going on?

  46. It is bad enough to cheat and steal from fellow billionaire owners- wrong is wrong, period.

    But to steal from fans/customers- even from those who can afford seat lease fees- is the worst!

    If the seat lease issue is substantiated, I wish serious prison time for Snyder and all others involved with creating and implementing that scheme.

  47. With enough of these improprieties coming to light, even the biggest billion-dollar enterprises can be made to come crashing down. (Or enough bad PR, gaslighting & media spin).

  48. Since when would other teams be given a % of other revenue that is generated by a team? College games, concerts, any event hosted at a stadium. That would mean anything at a stadium would go to the league. Pretty sure thats not how it works.

  49. Their fans already have revolted. Buried in that Post story from a few weeks ago was that under Snyder’s tenure they have gone from #1 in home game attendance to #31. 32? Lions.

  50. Also, imagine a billionaire with a multi-billion dollar company going out of his way to procure $162,000. LOL. Sounds legit.
    It was one example. Do it 8 times per season and it adds up. Critical thinking must not be taught in school anymore.

  51. NFL hit job in process. Will be interesting if the owners will go along with this one.

  52. People who say Congress should be running the country and not dealing with “private” business matters are completely missing the point. A significant issue before Congress now (and actually always) is reforming the tax code. Right now, professional teams are able to take advantage of very favorable provisions regarding tax treatment for public bonds used to finance stadiums. Basically, the public treasury subsidizes owners. The extent to which this is sound policy can be debated, but surely one reasonable factor to consider in whether to continue such subsidies is the conduct of the beneficiaries of this subsidy.

    Unfortunately, while a majority of Washington football fans seem ready to throw in the towel, there remains a large number of fans who simply refuse to hold Snyder accountable and will support him no matter what. Hard to understand why these people feel so invested in a guy who would gladly take their wallet, but it had always been the case that people being conned are the most ardent defenders of those who are conning them.

  53. touchback6 says:
    April 12, 2022 at 5:55 pm
    Why is Goodell protecting Snyder?
    Goodell is not protecting Snyder, he’s protecting the league.

  54. So you have one person and documents.. Ok where did the documents come from? If stolen they cannot be used in court because a good lawyer would get them thrown out. Who took them? If this one guy took them….he could be sued for a couple different reasons. Listen I’m all for the right thing here but this is clearly the NFL trying to get rid an owner they clearly do not like in the ‘club’… They want their boy Bezos in there. He has money and best yet he has his own TV Network….. think people…there’s an agenda here.

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