Time to Fret
A California juudge has rejected the plea agreement involving Anaheim Duck owner Henry Samueli. Not only did the judge make it clear he wanted to see a jail sentence, he seemed to imply Samueli deserved to be charged with more serious crimes:
“It would erode the public’s perception of our justice system to accept a plea agreement containing an unprecedented payment of $12 million to resolve the criminal liability of one of four coconspirators in an alleged $2.2 billion securities fraud.”
Samueli has been given time to negotiate a more acceptable plea agreement. Failing that he may decide to withdraw his guilty plea and take his chances in a trial. Either way, it has become a lot more likely he’s going to spend some time in jail. It has also become a lot more likely that the league will be looking for new ownership in Anaheim. I can’t see how the current arrangement – Gary Bettman is acting as a go between between a suspended Samueli and the team – can be sustained if Samueli is in jail.
Way back when the SEC first charged Samueli, Bettman said “The Samuelis have been terrific owners. They’re perhaps the most community-minded and charitable people in all of Orange County. I am not going to fret about something that may or may not be substantiated at the end of the day.”
I think he is fretting about it now.
Postscript: In the story’s strangest twist, Samueli’s partner, Henry Nicholas, has been indicted for conspiracy and securities fraud and also faces charges that “he slipped ecstasy into the drinks of business associates and had a drug warehouse.”
Update: Mirtle has more on Mr. Nicholas and the indictment against him. Apparently Nicholas enjoys “a lifestyle so extraordinarily profligate that not even the description of “Gatsbyesque” could suffice.”