|Erik Davis Harp|
(From Bay County, Florida,
Harp recently was arrested near Panama City Beach, Florida, on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon (firearm) into a government building. That comes on top of his 2009 indictment in Queens, New York, as one of two alleged ringleaders in an illegal offshore sports gambling operation. The ring, which had an offshore "wire room" in Panama, reportedly generated more than $20 million a month. For another perspective, the ring took in $567 million in a 28-month period leading to arrests.
It's not clear what, if any. punishment Harp received in the gambling case, but published reports indicate those arrested faced possible prison sentences of up to 25 years. For good measure, Harp's LinkedIn page (which misspells his first name as "Eric") lists him as an "independent gambling and casinos professional."
Is this the kind of guy the University of Alabama wants supporting Crimson Tide athletics, especially Nick Saban's vaunted football team? The answer appears to be yes.
The Web site for the Crimson Tide Foundation lists Harp as a donor. And he's not just any donor; he's a member of the Lifetime Giving Society. He's in the Crimson Circle, for folks who have given $50,000 to $99,000.
For most of us, that's pretty serious cash. And given Erik Harp's sketchy background, not to mention the scary mugshot above, it raises these questions:
Where did that money come from?
If Harp can afford to give serious cash to UA athletics, why did he seek criminal indigent status in the Florida case? (See document at the end of this post.) How did Harp claim he had no income or assets, even though he declared on his application that he lives at a swanky Marriott resort near Panama City Beach? Did Harp lie under oath on his application to be declared insolvent? Is it common for a prominent Bama booster to flaunt the law and file an application for indigent status that appears to be highly dubious?
Does anyone at the Crimson Tide Foundation care?
A pre-trial hearing in the Harp case is set for June 9, one week from today.