An entire news cycle could not pass before a second bombshell report about the Washington Commanders dropped.
Hours after owners Daniel and Tonya Snyder said they were “exploring all options” regarding a potential – or partial – sale of the team, ESPN reported the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia has opened a criminal investigation into allegations that the team engaged in financial improprieties.
According to the report, which cited two anonymous sources familiar with the investigation, the letter the House Committee on Oversight and Reform sent to the Federal Trade Commission and the attorney’s general of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia in April that alleged deceptive business practices.
The letter cited testimony from former vice president of sales and customer service Jason Friedman and alleged that ticket sales from Washington games were shifted to a 2013 Kenny Chesney concert and a 2014 Navy-Notre Dame football game. Other accusations of financial misconduct included making it intentionally difficult for season-ticket holders to receive refunds for deposits and potentially hiding money from the NFL.
OWNER: Dan Snyder hires bank to explore ‘potential transactions’ with Washington
Follow every game: Live NFL Scores
MORE CRUELTY: Dan Snyder’s announcement of ‘potential transactions’ for Commanders
Asked for comment, a Commanders spokesperson sent a statement attributed to attorney John Browlnee of the firm Holland & Knight, which represents the Commanders:
“It is not surprising that ESPN is publishing more falsehoods based solely on anonymous sources – given today’s announcement,” the statement said.
The statement said ESPN “mischaracterized” the investigation and that it is based on the testimony of Friedman, “a former disgruntled employee.”
“We are confident that, after these agencies have had a chance to review the documents and complete their work, they will come to the same conclusion as the team’s internal review – that these allegations are simply untrue,” the statement said.
USA TODAY Sports has reached out to the U.S. attorney’s office of Eastern District of Virginia for comment.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy declined comment and referred ESPN to the ongoing Mary Jo White investigation. White, a former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, was hired by the NFL in April to conduct an investigation into potential financial impropriety and sexual misconduct by Daniel Snyder. A timeline of when that investigation may conclude is unclear.
The NFL levied a $10 million fine against Snyder and the Commanders last year after attorney Beth Wilkinson found evidence of a “highly unprofessional” workplace culture in Washington. However, Wilkinson’s investigation produced no written report.
Contributing: Tom Schad; Associated Press