The Joy of Six: athletics executives who paid for their crimes in prison

David Lengel: Front office athletics figures whose transgressions resulted them to prison form an exclusive club one that may soon grow in the wake of Fifa scandals

Last week Christopher Correa, scouting director of the St Louis Cardinals, was is guilty of cyber crimes and sent to prison for 46 months. Yet hes scarcely the first athletics executive who fell afoul of the law. Here a look at six of the chief offenders.

1) Bernard Tapie

Hes a former pop starring and performer, who once owned Adidas, who once supervised a cycling team, drove race cars and was a legislator, one endorsed by then French president Franois Mitterrand. Most of all, Bernard Tapie is a once-bankrupt business tycoon who is seemingly never far from a spotlight.

This summer, the 72 -year-old finds himself at the center of an ongoing political scandal involving IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, but thats not why hes on our list of infamous athletics higher-ups. The larger-than-life flamboyant French figure attains the cut because of transgressions committed during his ownership of one of European soccers crown jewel, Olympique Marseille.

Just six weeks after some 50,000 Marseille supporters watched their heroes win Frances first and merely European title with a 1-0 upset of AC Milan in May 1993, Laffaire OM broke out in earnest, rocking both club and country.

It was alleged that Tapie sought to pay off certain Valenciennes players, whom Marseille would face on 20 May in Ligue 1, six days before the Champions League final. Why would Tapie take such risks in a mostly meaningless domestic affiliation? So his OM players could have an easy match before facing AC Milan. Tapie set the strategy in motion from his yacht, informing general manager Jean-Pierre Bernes and OM midfielder Jean-Jacques Eydelie to offer cash to several in the Valenciennes side in exchange for laying down for OM.

Eydelie would write in his 2006 volume that Tapie told him that it is imperative that you get in touch with your former Nantes team-mates at Valenciennes( there were two ). We dont want them acting like morons and violating us before the final with Milan. Do you know them well?

The three Valenciennes players were Jacques Glassmann, Jorge Burruchaga and Christophe Robert: detectives would afterward dig up 250,000 francs, approximately 30,000, in the garden of Roberts aunt. That fund stank so much that I hurled it in a pit said Robert.

Glassman was the whistleblower, ensure by many as a traitor, and eventually picked up a gig on La Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. Burruchaga and Robert were handed suspended six-month sentences and Eydelie received a one-year sentence. Bernes got a two-year suspended sentence and a $3,000 fine.

Tapie was protected due to his parliamentary immunity, that is, until it was voted away by MPs thanks to Tapies alleged role in a separate lawsuit. In 1995, Tapie was sentenced to one year in prison, afterward appealed down to eight months, and an additional one-year suspended term. Meanwhile, OM were stripped of their domestic title, banned from defending their European title, and relegated to the second division.

2) John Spano

John John Spano, in October 1996, the new proprietor of the New York Islanders. Photo: J Giamundo/ Getty Images

We look in the mirror and assure the very same person, every single day of our lives. We dont get to choose the very basics of who we are, where we came from and, for the most portion, what we look like. In short, theres no escaping ourselves. What we can control is exactly who people perceive us to be, that is, depending on the lengths were willing to go to convince them. John Spano was willing to go far, extremely far, in scamming his route into control of the NHLs New York Islanders in 1997.

The Islanders were fighting, a shadow of the franchise that won a startling 19 consecutive playoff series en route to bringing four Stanley Cup championships to the eastern suburbiums of New York City. Enter John Spano, a hero charged with saving the organization from a possible move out of their Uniondale home.

Spano was a small business owner from Texas who told John Pickett, the then-Isles owner, that he was worth $230 m. That number was significantly more than current realities: Spano was worth approximately$ 5m. Spano, who had tried to buy two other NHL franchises prior, agreed to buy the team and its Tv package for $165 m, and the sale process began.

Meanwhile, in the months leading up to the closing, Spano had operating control of the franchise, sat in the owners box and built real live hockey decisions, including forcing then-head coach and general manager Mike Milbury to leave the bench in favor of Rick Bowness.

Incredibly, Spano secured an $80 m loan from Fleet Bank in Boston, a process Spano called easier than getting his first auto loan of $12,000. Problems began when Spano couldnt secure the balance, with the fraudster buying period by presenting a different define of facts to various parties partaking in the closing.

I defined it up so other people couldnt talk to other people, or they didnt have enough knowledge to put two and two together, Spano said in the fascinating documentary Big Shot. The guy at the bank knew one thing. The guy at the NHL knew another. My lawyer knew something else. If they would have all got together, they would have realized something wasnt right.

With funds due, Spano would send wire transfers missing several zeros: his $17 m transfer was sent for $1,700, providing the appearance of an innocent mistake. Except none of it was an accident, and eventually Spanos scheme unraveled altogether, embarrassing the Islanders organisation and the NHL which reportedly expended under $1,000 analyse Spano during the process.

Spano was sentenced to 71 months in prison on four countings of scam, ordered to undergo psychiatric and medication advise and to pay $11.9 m in damage.

3) Christopher Correa

Chris Chris Correa, the former director of scouting for the St Louis Cardinals, should have probably stuck to use his telephone to communicate. Photograph: Bob Levey/ AP

On Tuesday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called on Russia to hack the email of the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. If merely it were the Russians who hacked into the proprietary database of the Houston Astros, St Louis Cardinals fans might feel a bit better about their own cyber crime situation. Instead, it was one of their own, former scouting director Christopher Correa, who was found guilty of the transgression.

When the news violated in June 2015 that the Cardinals were the subject of an FBI investigation, the key figure was Jeff Luhnow, the current Astros GM and a former Cardinals executive who headed up their scout and player developing from 1994 to 2012. The sabermetrically inclined Luhhow, who built computer networks for both franchises, was a large piece of the Cards winning puzzle, building up the treasure trove of talent that has been part of St Louis success over the years.

Investigators didnt find enough evidence to charge higher ups such as current senior vice president and general manager John Mozeliak, but Correa faced a trial, and pled guilty to to five countings of unauthorized access to computer info. According to a statement of charges from the US Attorneys Office, Correa 😛 TAGEND downloaded an Excel file containing a list of every player eligible for the 2013 draft and how Astros scouts ranked them.
viewed the Astros internal draft page during the draft viewed internal notes on trade talks with other organizations, scouting provides information on would-be draft pickings and read evaluations of international players the Astros were looking at Then Swindon chairman Brian Hillier leaving an FA disciplinary committee, where he was banned from the game for six months for transgressing the FAs betting rules. Hilliers reign brought highs and lows to the club. Photo: Fiona Hanson/ PA Ex-hockey czar Alan Eagleson, left, pleaded guilty to three countings of mail fraud. Photograph: Reuters Derbyshire County Cricket Ground in 1981, over 90 years after Derbyshire CCC was virtually run into the ground by its administrator Samuel Richardson. Photo: Bob Thomas/ Getty Images

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