|Paul Bryant Jr.|
(Photo by Glenn Baeske/The
In fact, Bloomberg Markets magazine shined a national and international light on Bryant's chicanery earlier this year in an article titled "Alabama football dominance powered by Bear Bryant son's fortune." Bloomberg went on to show that part of that fortune was built via insurance fraud. A lot of it was built from hiding dog-track profits from the IRS.
UAB President Ray Watts supposedly pulled the trigger on UAB football, but he already has been caught in multiple lies about his actions.
Example A: Al.com quoted Watts as saying, "Killing football was not what we set out to do." But columnist John Archibald uncovered documents that indicated someone planned to kill the football program for quite some time;
Example B: Columnist Kevin Scarbinsky discovered evidence that Watts decided to kill football before a consulting firm's study on the subject had been completed;
Example C: Watts said he asked major donors to help with fundraising for the program. But two long-time financial supporters, Don Hire and Jimmy Filler, told ESPN they never were asked to give.
Watts once enjoyed a sterling reputation as a world-class neurologist, researcher, clinician, and academic leader. He now is seen by many as the university president who stabbed his own students, supporters, and community in the back--and the decision to kill football is likely to become his albatross, according to one media outlet. UAB nursing students have issued a vote of no confidence in Watts, and the Jefferson County Commission has asked him to reinstate the football program.
One local journalist, al.com's Kyle Whitmire, said Watts "looks like a stooge of his absentee masters in Tuscaloosa." Whitmire actually was being kind in calling Watts a stooge. "Shill" and "whore" are words that also would apply.
Regardless of the language involved, Whitmire nailed it. And Watts' most likely master is Paul Bryant Jr.
What do we know about the son of UA's late Hall of Fame coach, Paul "Bear" Bryant? Here at Legal Schnauzer, we've written a series of posts that show one of Bryant's companies, Alabama Reassurance, was inextricably linked to a $15-million fraud scheme that netted a 15-year federal prison sentence for a Philadelphia lawyer/entrepreneur named Allen W. Stewart.
Here is how we described the ties of Bryant and his company to the Stewart scandal:
It's not as if serious doubt exists about Bryant's connections to fraud. . . . A ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania . . . upholds Allen W. Stewart's convictions--and proves Alabama Re's role in the case. And we quote from a pertinent section of that ruling, encompassed in footnote 11:
11. The relevant portions of the charge read as follows: Counts 24 through 32 charge a wire fraud scheme to deceive state insurance regulators involving reinsurance. The superseding indictment alleges that in late 1992 or early 1993 the defendant devised a scheme to deceive state regulators and others regarding the true and complete reinsurance arrangements involving Summit National Life Insurance Company, its subsidiary Fidelity General Life Insurance Company, and the Alabama Reassurance Company in order to inflate their financial statements.
Bloomberg Markets picked up on our reporting in fall 2013, and reporter Anthony Effinger consulted me multiple times while conducing research for his article, which appeared in the January 2014 print issue. (See article at end of this post.)
My last communication with Effinger was on October 12, 2013. Eleven days later, I was arrested related to a defamation lawsuit filed by Republican political figure Rob Riley. Shelby County deputies entered my home, without showing a warrant or stating they had a warrant, and beat me up and maced me in the face, dragging me off to a jail, where I stayed for five months--becoming the only journalist in the western hemisphere to be arrested in 2013.
Bob Riley, Rob Riley's father, once sat on the UA Board of Trustees in his ex oficio capacity as Alabama governor, sharing power space with Bryant Jr. We have shown that Rob Riley's lawsuit bore no resemblance to a normal defamation complaint. Riley asked for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, both of which are unlawful prior restraints under First Amendment law that dates to the earlier days of our republic. Riley did not ask for a trial, although longstanding law holds that free speech issues in defamation cases are so fundamental to our democracy that such cases must be heard at trial and not via a bench proceeding. Riley also did not ask for his case to be heard by a jury, although longstanding law holds that defamation cases must be heard by a jury; to hold otherwise would allow a single judge to engage in unconstitutional censorship.
Finally, Riley asked that the case be sealed so that neither the public nor the press would know anything about it. Word quickly got out, however, that a journalist had essentially been kidnapped--and widespread coverage followed, even in The New York Times.
Clearly, Rob Riley's lawsuit was not really about defamation--it was about intimidation, and it was designed from the outset to have me arrested on bogus contempt-of-court charges. That points to ulterior motives, and given the timeline, a reasonable person might ask: Was I arrested, in part, because of my role in helping Bloomberg Markets with its investigative piece on Paul Bryant Jr.?
That question certainly has crossed my mind on multiple occasions over the past year or so. Is Paul Bryant Jr. the kind of person who would resort to such thuggery? Bloomberg Markets provides considerable insight into what drives "Bear Junior," and we will take a look at that in an upcoming post.
Meanwhile, al.com's John Archibald directly asked Ray Watts if he was hired to be UAB president as part of a deal that involved a promise to kill the university's football program. Watts used some rather unpresidential language to deny it. From the Archibald article:
It is the deception that stings. It is the way Watts and his office deflected questions, avoided students and the public and misled those around him that hurts. The only answer he gave with any fire this week was a fervent "BS" when I asked if he had been hired by the Board of Trustees to shut down the football program.
But even that came across as BS. Because Watts leaves a string of gaping skeptics everywhere he goes.
(To be continued)