The three-man lawyer who charged two NFL players with theft and assault in Florida was arrested Monday morning and charged with attempting to extort around $ 800,000 from one of the athletes in exchange for what its clients modify their testimonials.
Four men accused the players of robbing them at gunpoint during a barbecue on May 13, but three later retracted their testimony and the fourth refused to answer questions from prosecutors , according to a statement from the Broward County District Attorney.
William A. Dean, 50, managing partner of Florida law firm Ford, Dean & Rotundo, was charged Monday in Broward County with soliciting payments for three clients in exchange for their changing their testimony or of their ceasing to cooperate with prosecutors. A woman who answered the phone at Ford, Dean & Rotundo said Mr. Dean was not available to speak. Further calls asking the cabinet to comment on Mr Dean’s arrest resulted in the line being disconnected.
The charges stem from the May incident in Miramar, Fla., Where, according to witnesses, three men stole from people at a barbecue for $ 70,000 in cash and jewelry after one of the men fired gun. Witnesses identified New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker, Seattle Seahawks safety Quinton Dunbar and a man wearing a red mask as the perpetrators. The man in the red mask has never been identified and the charges against Mr Dunbar were dropped in August, according to the Miami Herald.
Mr Baker, 23, who the Giants selected as the 30th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and started in 15 of 16 games in his rookie season last year, was charged on Aug. 5 with four counts of armed robbery and four counts of aggravated assault. He was released by the team in early September. Broward County prosecutors on Monday dropped all charges against Mr Baker.
A spokesperson for the New York Giants declined to comment via email. Mr. Dunbar, 28, still plays for the Seattle Seahawks, but the team announced on Nov. 13 that he had a knee injury.
The case against Mr Baker collapsed as the men accusing him began to change their story or became completely uncooperative. According to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Mr. Dean was investigated in August after reports emerged that he was trying to extort Mr. Baker.
“Alleged victims and known witnesses have become uncooperative and their credibility is steadily tarnished,” Deputy Prosecutor Paul R. Valcore said in a statement Monday. One of Mr Baker’s accusers declined to answer questions and prosecutors have called for the accuser to stand in contempt of court, Mr Valcore said.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that investigators believed Mr. Dean wanted Mr. Baker to pay each of his clients more than $ 266,000 in exchange for changing their testimony or refusing to cooperate further with them. prosecutors in the case. “Evidence in the case reveals Dean told Baker’s attorney his clients would do ‘whatever you want, as long as the money is right,” “the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Mr. Dean was arrested by Broward County Sheriff’s Deputies and United States Marshals in North Miami Beach early Monday morning.
Citing an ongoing investigation by the Broward State Attorney’s Office and the Broward Sheriff’s Office, a Broward County spokeswoman declined to comment further on the case against Mr Dean.
Bradford Cohen, Mr Baker’s attorney, said on Monday his client had been the victim of a shakedown and Mr Dean had initially requested $ 1.5 million. No money has ever changed hands, Mr Cohen said.
“These guys wanted the money to go,” Mr. Cohen said of the men who accused Mr. Baker, noting that the accusers’ testimony has changed over time. “I hope the NFL will look into this matter and let the business go before they decide to suspend a player.”
Asked why the case was brought against Mr. Baker when there were supposedly questionable witnesses, Mr. Cohen replied, “Because it was a high profile case. Your fame is a detriment when you have a criminal case against you. “