Boss Takes Leave; Superseding Indictment Adds Tax Charges

A federal grand jury Dec. 15 returned a superseding indictment against Int’l Boxing Fed’n president Robert Lee, Sr., his son and two other IBF officials, charging Lee and his son with new counts of subscribing to false tax returns. Each of the new counts charges that for the tax years listed, the Lees filed tax returns in which they failed to disclose additional income in the form of bribes paid to them by boxing promoters, boxing managers and others. The Superseding Indictment alleges the bribes were paid to alter ratings of particular boxers and to provide others with favorable treatment.

The original 32-count Indictment was returned Nov. 3. It charged Lee Sr. and his co-defendants with running the East Orange-based IBF as a racketeering enterprise, in which fighters’ rankings were manipulated in exchange for bribes. The Superseding Indictment repeats the same counts and accusations and adds only the charges of filing false tax returns. [USAO D.N.J., Media Release 12/15/99]

Lee, Sr., said Dec. 13 he has taken a leave of absence from the union he founded so he can defend himself against charges he took bribes to rig its rankings. His trial is scheduled for Jan. 11, but is likely to start later in the year. The IBF said Lee’s move should persuade federal prosecutors to drop attempts to install a court-appointed monitor for one of boxing’s major governing bodies. Ass’t U.S. Attorney Joseph G. Braunreuther, lead prosecutor in the effort to get a monitor, refused to comment,

IBF’s executive committee unanimously accepted Lee’s offer and appointed one of its vice presidents, Hiawatha Knight of Detroit, to serve as president during Lee’s absence. Knight, a retired gym teacher and high school athletic coach, was a member of the Mich. State Athletic Boxing Com. from 1978 to 1988, the last eight years as chairwoman.

An indictment and a government lawsuit brought last month accuse Lee and others of taking $338,000 in bribes to change the organization’s rankings. The rankings play a big role in determining fights and purses for boxers. [Record (Bergen County, N.J.) 12/14/99]