Phoenix LXXII: Send in the Clowns
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02-20-2013, 10:59 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: South of Heaven
Originally Posted by
LeFevre seems like a perfect tire kicker for Glendale.
Never saw that exerpt before Blues, thanks. I added it to my repository
To me, I know this seems like it's going OT, but I see some similarities here. Got this one for you, and anyone else, that is (IMO) the mother of all articles regarding the first 9 years of the Lightning, David LeFevre, and his cross-over into Beacon. Beacon "assisted" in a $7M bridge loan for operating costs for the Bolts back in 98, among "other" things.
From SI - 1998 - Killion's favorite (BTW - Where the Hell has he been lately?)
Esposito and Tak Kojima, a former investor in the Lightning, tell similar stories of last-minute cancellations by Okubo. Tony Guanci, a consultant for the Las Vegas-based Maloof family, which considered buying Tampa Bay last summer and later purchased the NBA Sacramento Kings, says jokingly, "Not only did I never speak to Okubo in our eight months [of pursuing Tampa Bay], I began to wonder if he exists."
Why the shroud of secrecy? In a lawsuit filed last year in Tampa federal court by Ganis against Lightning ownership, management and former team lawyer
, Okubo is described by one potential Japanese source of financing for Tampa Bay as a "gangster." In Japan there is a mob organization called yakuza, which has been known to enter the sports world, most notably to launder money through such enterprises as golf courses. Stephen Wayne, the New York lawyer who has handled Tampa Bay's search for a buyer for the last 14 months, contends that any implication that Okubo is involved in organized crime is "entirely unfounded." Adds Phillips, "We deny the charge tenfold."
Oto says that Kokusai Green never wanted more than a limited interest in the Lightning but that because of Tampa Bay's financial woes—in June 1991, the team missed a $22.5 million franchise installment payment—the company felt obliged to take a majority stake in September 1991. A former Lightning executive, however, says Kokusai Green and LeFevre plotted to grab control of the franchise almost from the time Kokusai Green became a limited partner. "We have copies of the letters that LeFevre sent to John Ziegler offering to step over us and go directly into [majority] ownership of the franchise," the executive says. "He wrote those letters while he was representing us." (LeFevre says he doesn't remember those letters and that he worked only for Kokusai Green.)
LeFevre's efforts soon paid off. At a September 1991 meeting, the NHL's Board of Governors approved Kokusai Green as the franchise's new majority owner, replacing Esposito's group. McMullen says that at this meeting he warned other NHL owners not to trust LeFevre but that his words fell on deaf ears. "There was no way that LeFevre should have been awarded a franchise," says McMullen. "That is when I came to the conclusion we had to get a new [league] president."
and one little last bit... sorry for the bandwidth usage but the article's 4 1/2 pages long and I know some here are "lazy"
In October 1995, at least three of Tampa Bay's six limited partners wrote angry letters to Bettman just days after Kokusai Green issued an "emergency" cash call to cover Lightning operating expenses. The partners who sent letters—Kojima; Andrew Williams of Equity Resource Group, based in Indian River County, Fla.; and the John Chase family, from Boston—charged Kokusai Green and LeFevre with "self-dealing" and with a transparent attempt to drive the limited partners from the team.
The cash call and its terms—$885,000 per partnership unit, to be paid within 30 days or the limited partner would forfeit any previous investment—were within Kokusai Green's rights as controlling partner. But when the limited partners got a look at the Lightning's finances as a condition of the cash call, they were surprised. In addition to showing that Okubo owned Kokusai Green, the records revealed that LeFevre was owed a $2 million fee for securing the arena financing in Ganis's stead and that Kokusai Green had been investing in the Lightning in the form of loans rather than equity, which allowed Kokusai Green to charge Tampa Bay as much as 12% interest.
This is a story in which hardly anyone escapes unscathed. Esposito says he ruined a marriage and risked his shirt to land an NHL club for Tampa. "There were so many times I was scared s—less," he says. Oto and Phillips say they've tried to do the honorable thing, only to find their motives questioned. Ganis says he has lost millions. When Lou Lamoriello, the general manager of the Devils, was walking to the Ice Palace on Feb. 26 for a game against the Lightning, LeFevre pulled up alongside him in a car and offered him a ride. Seven months after resigning from the Lightning when Oto accused him of lying about his involvement in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' stadium deal while he was still on the Lighting payroll, LeFevre is trying to pull off his biggest power play yet. "I'm working on buying the Lightning and the arena," he told Lamoriello. Says McMullen, "He's got nine lives."
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