Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder said he is the victim of an extortion campaign by one of the franchise’s minority owners, according to a court filing Wednesday in Maryland.
Snyder made the filing one day after a Washington Post story reported further details of a $1.6 million settlement the franchise paid to a former employee over a sexual misconduct allegation in 2009.
Snyder’s filing, in U.S. District Court in southern Maryland, said one of the team’s minority partners, Dwight Schar, was trying to force him to sell the franchise.
“I firmly believe that Plaintiffs’ motion and supplemental filing and the news articles that they have generated are the latest in the effort to extort me,” the filing stated.
The New York Times reported last weekend about the settlement. On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that it had received a copy of the agreement and, citing an anonymous source, said it stemmed from an incident on Snyder’s plane while returning from the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas.
In Snyder’s filing Wednesday, he said, “The Post’s article includes several quotes from the filing that improperly give the misleading impression, based on Plaintiffs’ position and status, that there was merit to the allegations of misconduct. Plaintiffs’ purpose in submitting their supplemental filing is now clear: to try to continue to smear me in an effort to gain leverage in this business dispute.”
The New York Times had earlier reported Sunday that two investigations in 2009 — by the team and an outside law firm — failed to substantiate the former employee’s claim. The newspaper reported that Snyder paid the sum to avoid any negative publicity. Also in the settlement, Snyder did not admit wrongdoing, nor did anyone else.
Snyder’s filling claims that no evidence of wrongdoing was found after an investigation by a law firm.
“Plaintiff Schar nevertheless threatened to reveal to discredit me and embarrass my family, but which the insurance carrier decided to settle,” Snyder said, according to the filing.
In two stories this summer, the Post reported a total of 40 women had said they were sexually harassed while employed by the franchise. The newspaper also reported that there were “lewd videos produced by the team from outtakes of cheerleader calendar shoots in 2008 and 2010.” Snyder has said he did not know about those videos.
The stories coincide with Snyder’s three minority partners, Schar, Fred Smith and Bob Rothman, wanting to sell their shares. They own a combined 40% of the team. Snyder has reportedly offered to buy the shares for $900 million. According to Forbes, Washington’s franchise is valued at $3.5 billion; in a sale of the team, 40% would be worth $1.4 billion.
The NFL is conducting an independent investigation into the allegations in the Post articles. On Tuesday, former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch joined the investigation, focusing on Schar’s alleged role in leaking information.
Snyder has alleged in previous filings that Schar was behind some of the negative information that was included in articles. On Wednesday, his filing stated that “Dwight Schar has funneled information about me and the Team to Mary Ellen Blair, a former Executive Assistant with the Team, to be provided to The Washington Post.”
According to Snyder, Blair made a declaration that Schar told her to share information with The Washington Post. Snyder’s filing alleged that Schar’s daughter bought Blair a “burner phone” to “attempt to escape detection of Mr. Schar’s conspiratorial communications.” He cited “numerous calls” from that phone to Schar’s cellphone number.
Snyder said there have been repeated threats by Schar and others associated with him over the past five months. Snyder said Schar threatened “my personal attorney” in a July 25 conversation.
Snyder claimed Schar told his attorney that information would come out if he didn’t sell the team and that the story “will kill Dan.”
A text from the minority owners’ investment banker, John Moag, hinted at what might come out if Snyder didn’t cooperate: “And you know it has nothing to do with the media s— …it’s the more serious s—. If you want a s— show, we are on for that too.”
Moag has confirmed to other outlets that the text was accurate.
There will be a virtual hearing Jan. 7 before U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte about each side alleging that the other is leaking information to the media. According to the Post, Snyder, Schar, Rothman and Smith all have to appear.
Snyder denied in his filing that he has been the source of any confidential information.
“I am fighting on multiple fronts for interests that go beyond just me including for the Team that I love, as well as my family,” Snyder said in the filing, “and can swear to this Court that the accusations I improperly leaked information to the press are false.”