Saturday September 30, 2023

Former Exec Seeks $7.85M in Lawsuit Against Commanders

  • Jason Friedman detailed allegations of financial improprieties to Congress.
  • The team alleged Friedman lied, challenged him to file a lawsuit.
Commanders sale awaits to be finalized.
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The Washington Commanders challenged a former team employee who alleged to House Oversight Committee investigators of a scheme where the team held back revenue from the NFL to file a defamation lawsuit. 

Jason Friedman, a former Commanders’ ticketing department exec whose tenure with the team spanned 24 years, followed through with earlier this month, demanding the team retract statements that he was a “serial liar” in a lawsuit seeking $7.85 million in damages. 

“The team responded to Mr. Friedman’s allegations of financial improprieties by repeatedly and publicly calling him a liar, accusing him of committing the federal crime of perjury, and falsely implying that he was terminated as part of the team’s sexual harassment scandal that was being widely reported in the press,” Adam Herzog, one of Friedman’s attorneys, wrote in the complaint obtained by Front Office Sports.

The Commanders and an outside attorney for the team, John Brownlee, are listed as defendants.

“We believe this complaint is completely without merit, and we will vigorously defend the team against these false allegations,” a Commanders spokesperson said in a statement.

Herzog, a partner at the firm Katz Banks Kumin that represents dozens of former Commanders employees, alleged that the Commanders’ false statements last year have “devastated [Friedman] personally and professionally.”

In March 2022, FOS broke the news of the allegations of financial improprieties, including using “two books” that depicted different pictures of the team’s finances. Days later, FOS followed with more details of the scheme, which included allegations that Commanders held back visiting ticket revenue from the league.

The second report was referenced in the lawsuit filed in a Loudoun County court. The Commanders are headquartered in the Northern Virginia county. 

The Loudoun-Times Mirror was the first outlet to report the lawsuit. 

The team released a statement to FOS and other outlets after FOS’ exclusive reporting. 

“There has been absolutely no withholding of ticket revenue at any time by the Commanders,” the Commanders said in the April 2022 statement. “Those revenues are subject to independent audits by multiple parties. Anyone who offered testimony suggesting a withholding of revenue has committed perjury, plain and simple.”

Outlets, including The Athletic and ProFootballTalk, identified Friedman as the person who told the House Oversight Committee about the alleged revenue scheme. The first reference of Friedman by FOS came in a statement sent from Joseph Tacopina, one of the team’s attorneys. 

“The Commanders did not reference Mr. Friedman — or anyone else — by name in their statement,” said Tacopina, who represented former President Donald Trump in a case where Trump was found liable in May of battery and defamation in a civil case.  “However, if Mr. Friedman believes he has been defamed, he should bring a defamation suit.  The Commanders will gladly accept service and vigorously defend any such claim.” 

The Oversight Committee sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission after FOS’ reporting that detailed the allegations. In the letter, the committee alleged “senior executives and the team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, may have engaged in a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct.”

“Jason Friedman testified truthfully before Congress about his experiences with the Washington Commanders,” Lisa Banks, another of Friedman’s attorneys, said in a statement to FOS on Monday. “In response to his testimony, the team and its lawyer attempted to publicly destroy him by baselessly calling him a liar and questioning his moral character. I am confident that Mr. Friedman will be vindicated both by the NFL’s investigation and a court of law.” 

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