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Ohio Steeler 04-27-2006 12:03 AM

Tax consultant says marketers never met Bush
 
SAN DIEGO (AP) - A financial and tax consultant said the man who reportedly tried to land Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush for his startup sports marketing firm didn't have any experience in the business.

David Reyes said he met with Michael C. Michaels and Lloyd Lake before they began courting Bush for New Era Sports & Entertainment LLC. Michaels and Lake, used Reyes' office address on a brochure for New Era Sports.

The two men reportedly also attempted to compel Bush to sign with San Diego agent David Caravantes, who is certified to negotiate NFL contracts. Caravantes represents six players, none of them considered stars, according to NFL Players Association records.

"I know for a fact they never met with Reggie," said Reyes, who advises pro athletes on how they can help minimize taxes on signing bonuses.

"Quite honestly, I was concerned from the beginning with this whole deal with Reggie, as far as getting him," Reyes said. "Most people felt he was going to be a No. 1 pick, and he was going with more of a known entity."

Reyes also said he wasn't aware of Michaels and Lake having any marketing experience.

"This was all from scratch," Reyes said. "They didn't have the credentials."

Bush didn't sign with New Era Sports or Caravantes, who did not return phone messages and e-mails seeking comment Tuesday.

Bush's family lived in a house owned by Michaels for nearly a year. Yahoo.com reported Sunday that the family moved out last weekend after questions over its ownership arose.

The Pac-10 said Sunday that it will investigate whether any NCAA rules were violated when Bush's family, including mother Denise Griffin, stepfather LaMar Griffin and brother Jovan Griffin lived in the house in the San Diego suburb of Spring Valley while Bush was still playing for Southern California last season. NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes and their families from receiving extra benefits from agents or their representatives.

In an interview with ESPN on Monday, Bush said his parents leased the house but declined to say who paid the rent.

Also on Tuesday, a powerful Indian tribe said Tuesday it had nothing to do with an attempt by Michaels, who is a member of the tribe, to steer Bush to New Era Sports.

The Sycuan Tribe said it was approached last fall by Michaels.

"There was a request to become partners in this New Era Sports," said Adam Day, Sycuan's assistant tribal manager. "Both the tribal council and the development corporation board of directors refused to join into the business venture."

Michaels is an employee of the tribal development corporation. He didn't immediately return phone calls Tuesday seeking comment.

Also Tuesday, Day disputed unsworn court testimony in which Caravantes linked New Era Sports & Entertainment with Sycuan, which is located in eastern San Diego County and has annual revenue estimated at $250 million.

During a parole violation hearing earlier this year for Lake, a documented gang member now serving time in prison for a probation violation, Caravantes told the court that he and Lake "got together in October to start a new sports management company with Sycuan. Since October, Lloyd was a viable part of the company, helping recruit players, and in the process of merging this New Era Sports with Sycuan," according to an account that was confirmed by Lake's former attorney Marc X. Carlos.

"He was trying to help a friend who got sent to prison, and made inaccurate statements about his businesses relationship with us," Day said. "We are going to have our attorney look at the statement and transcript to see what actions we can potentially take."

Michaels, who is also known as Michael Pettiford, was linked to Lake in a lengthy 2002 FBI affidavit filed in support of arrest warrants for Lake and other accused San Diego gang members. FBI agent Allan Vitkosky that Lake's "close relationship" with Michaels allowed Lake to tap a $10,000 line of credit with a quick phone call when he was running low on money at the casino.

Lake, 32, of El Cajon has a felony record that stretches back more than a decade. Police records identified him as one of 73 documented members of a street gang, according to the 2002 warrant. Lake has arrests and convictions for gun- and drug-related charges, and he is currently serving 12 months in a federal prison in Victorville for beating up his girlfriend while on probation for a drug-related charge.

Lake also started a San Diego-based rap music label, Breakbread Records, which received wire money transfers but never filed a tax return, Vitkosky wrote.

Sycuan has operated a casino for 24 years, but in the last 10 years has diversified beyond gaming. In 2000, Sycuan paid more than $1.5 million to become the title sponsor of the San Diego Padres' season. Sycuan has had other sponsorship deals with the Padres and invested in a hotel in the redevelopment zone surrounding Petco Park, the Padres' home.

Sycuan owns a resort that includes three golf courses, and promotes boxing matches.


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