Congress Accuses Washington Commanders Of Ripping Off $5M From Season Ticket Holders

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The Washington Commanders latest controversy is a financial scandal that could threaten Dan Snyder’s ownership of the NFL team.

The House Oversight Committee accused Snyder and his team of engaging in a “troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct” in a 20-page letter to the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday.

Josh Friedman, the team’s former vice president of sales and customer service, came forward with allegations that the Commanders engaged in “deceptive business practices” to swindle season ticket holders out of as much as $5 million in refundable deposits.

Friedman, who worked for the franchise for 24 years, said the team did not inform season ticket holders of a policy change in 2000, which no longer required the collection of security deposits. 

He also alleged that team executives “directed employees to establish roadblocks,” such as refusing to accept refund requests via email, so the team could keep the money. 

Based on the documents he provided to the committee, the team had kept around $5 million from approximately 2,000 customer accounts “over the course of several years,” and “was done at the direction and for the benefit of Mr. Snyder.”  

“So basically, the team is holding on to these security deposits, many of which should be back in the hands of the customers or former customers,” Friedman noted. 

He said that Snyder instructed former chief financial officer, Stephen Choi to shut down the practice some time around 2017. And Choi himself informed him that “Dan doesn’t want us to mess with it anymore. Just leave it alone. Don’t touch any of the money. Don’t try and get it back to the customers, don’t try and convert it into juice, just leave it alone.”  

The NFL responded to the allegations against Snyder and the Commanders, formerly the Redskins, on Tuesday. 

“We continue to cooperate with the Oversight Committee and have provided more than 210,000 pages of documents,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “The NFL has engaged former SEC chair Mary Jo White to review the serious matters raised by the Committee.”

Last July, the league slapped the Commanders with a $10 million fine, the largest in the NFL’s history, after launching a probe into the sexual harassment and discrimination of at least 40 female employees. 

Lawyers for the women said the penalty was “pocket change” and a “slap in the face” to the employees that came forward.

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