Government Files Racketeering Suit Against IBF

The U.S. Atty.’s Office in New Jersey filed a civil RICO suit Nov. 22 against the Int’l Boxing Fed’n and its top bosses, seeking their removal from control of IBF and its finances and the appointment of a monitor to reform the IBF. The action followed the criminal indictment on Nov. 4, which charged IBF president Robert W. Lee Sr., and his co-defendants with running IBF as a racketeering enterprise, in which they routinely solicited and accepted bribes from fight promoters and managers to fix fighter rankings.

“The allegations of corruption in the IBF are severe and wide in scope. This clearly is the best possible remedy to save the IBF from its corrupt influences and ensure its integrity for the future,” U.S. Atty. Robert J. Cleary said.

As a basis for the action, the suit states: “The IBF has been systematically corrupted by a long pattern of racketeering activity calculated to personally benefit the defendants and others. Much of the corruption regards the integral function of the IBF’s rating of boxers. … These ratings, which were represented by the IBF as fair and unbiased, which largely determine a boxer’s success and career opportunities and which were relied upon by many in the boxing industry, were illegitimate in that they were covertly and directly influenced by payoffs from boxing managers and promoters. Payoffs and ratings fixing occurred at least as early as 1985 and have continued systematically thereafter. … That the corrupt IBF leadership remains in power, despite indictment – and the fact that other IBF officials still involved with the organization knew of the corruption, benefited from it and did nothing to stop it – demands Court intervention.”

The 80-page RICO suit identifies the defendants and the allegations against them and is largely identical to the criminal racketeering Indictment against Lee and his co-defendants: Robert Lee Jr., the liaison to the IBF president; Don W. Brennan, a former member of the IBF executive board, and Francisco Fernandez, an IBF international commissioner.

The Government also sought a preliminary and permanent injunction that would: 1) bar the four defendants from having any role whatsoever in the affairs of the IBF or any other boxing organization currently in existence or yet to be created; 2) enjoin all current and future officials and employees of the IBF from soliciting or accepting money, gifts, fees or compensation of any kind that has any relation to the ranking of boxers; 3) enjoin all current and future officials and employees from accepting any compensation that may be adverse to the interest of the IBF. The suit also seeks a Court order requiring the defendants to divest themselves of any ownership interest (such as stock) or any of the illegal proceeds described in the complaint.

The Government proposed Zachary W. Carter, the former U.S. Atty. in Brooklyn, N.Y., to become the Court-approved monitor of the East Orange, N.J.-based IBF. In that capacity Carter would have wide discretion, under supervision of the U.S. Dist. Court, in reforming the IBF. Carter has agreed to take on the monitorship. [USAO D. N.J., Media Release 11/22/99]