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D.C. Attorney General Files Ticket Criticism Against Washington NFL Team

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The attorney general for the District of Columbia filed a civil grievance against the Washington Commanders on Thursday, accusing the team of failing to refund a whole bunch of hundreds of dollars in season ticket deposits to fans.

It was the second grievance filed against the team by Karl Racine, the attorney general, and got here every week after the primary civil grievance accused the Commanders, team owner Dan Snyder, the N.F.L. and Commissioner Roger Goodell of misrepresenting their efforts to handle a long time of sexual harassment and abuse of girls who worked for the team.

“The Commanders’ arrogance and blatant disregard for the law is a slap within the face to District residents who’ve supported the team for a long time,” Racine said in a press release Thursday.

Within the grievance, the attorney general alleged that the team misrepresented the terms of returning customers’ security deposits, saying that their money could be refunded inside 30 days after their season-ticket contracts expired. The team, the attorney general said, did not disclose that it will hold those security deposits indefinitely unless the season-ticket holders followed an “undisclosed, extra-contractual policy” requiring them to submit a signed written request for his or her deposit to be returned.

The omission, the grievance said, “tended to mislead consumers and is an illegal trade practice.”

In a press release, the team said it had hired an out of doors law firm and forensic auditors that “found no evidence that the team intentionally withheld security deposits that ought to have been returned to customers or that the team improperly converted any unclaimed deposits to revenue.”

The team said that in 2014, managers were told to send notices to greater than 1,400 customers with deposits and returned all security deposits requested.

The N.F.L. didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

Racine said he was searching for a court order to force the Commanders to stop these practices and pay back ticket holders who live in Washington, his jurisdiction, in addition to financial penalties for the team for violating consumer-protection laws.

In line with the grievance, the team has been withholding security deposits way back to 1996. Over time, some fans have been repaid, but many former season-ticket holders who live within the District are still owed a whole bunch of hundreds of dollars.

Together, the 2 civil lawsuits brought in Washington add to the mounting legal inquiries of Snyder, who faces at the least five open investigations, including one led by the attorney general for the state of Virginia.

The Commanders are headquartered in Virginia and play their home games in Maryland, but they draw on residents of those two states and Washington as ticket buyers and employees.

Racine in recent times has opened cases against Facebook and Amazon, joined other attorneys general in suing Google over privacy practices and brought a federal lawsuit against the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers over their roles within the Jan. 6 riot.

His complaints related to the Commanders could each lead to potentially tens of millions of dollars of penalties. In the primary grievance, if a jury determined that the league and the team had lied about their investigation into sexual harassment on the organization, they may very well be fined “as much as $5,000” for every instance through which they misrepresented their efforts.

Courts have broad discretion to find out what constitutes a violation.

In contrast with Racine’s earlier suit, damages within the consumer-protection lawsuit filed on Thursday are more easily quantifiable since it seeks to discover money that will have been withheld from Washington consumers and other businesses.

The costs within the grievance on Thursday were originally delivered to light in a hearing held by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which began an investigation of the team in October 2021. Republican leaders announced on Thursday that the inquiry could be shelved early next 12 months after the party gained control of the House of Representatives.

Quite a few former team employees spoke to the congressional committee at a round table in February, including Jason Friedman, who for twenty-four years worked within the team’s ticketing office.

He accused the team of keeping “two sets of books” with the intention to conceal a whole bunch of hundreds of dollars of revenue that was presupposed to be shared with all 32 N.F.L. franchises. He also claimed that the team had not properly refunded as much as $5 million in refundable security deposits to season-ticket holders.

In April, the House committee referred the allegations involving potential ticket fraud to the Federal Trade Commission. In line with an ESPN report, the U.S. attorney’s office within the Eastern District of Virginia can also be looking into claims of economic malfeasance made against the team. The team has denied the fees and sent the F.T.C. 102 pages of support documents to disprove the allegations. The F.T.C. has not commented on its investigation.

The allegations made to Congress prompted the N.F.L. to rent Mary Jo White, an attorney and former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to start a latest investigation into the Commanders and Snyder.

The issues facing Snyder and the Commanders, combined with the poor performance of the team on the sphere and the league’s lowest attendance, have irked the N.F.L.’s other owners, who’ve privately discussed ousting Snyder. Twenty-four of the 32 team owners would need to vote to remove Snyder, a step that has never been taken within the N.F.L.’s greater than 100-year history.

Two weeks ago, Daniel and Tanya Snyder announced that they’d hired bankers to explore all options for selling some or the entire team.

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