Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Con

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"As the epicenter of the nation’s Medicare fraud and capital of assorted con men, scam artists and Ponzi schemers, we [in Miami] should be extremely leery of newcomers who roll into town making big promises. We’ve heard such promises from the likes of David Paul, Sheikh Mohammad Al-Fassi , Allen Stanford, Nevin Shapiro and Scott Rothstein, to name but a few. As I was taught to say years ago, you trust your mother but cut the cards." -Michael Putney, in a Miami Herald column, Sept. 20, 2011

Marlins' Jeffrey Loria and David Samson conned Miami, lined their pockets and held a fire sale

by Jeff Passan, Yahoo Sports

Here is how the con worked.

The Florida Marlins owners whined, and they brayed, and they swore up and down that they couldn't afford the new stadium necessary to raise their payroll from embarrassing levels and compete annually. And they got it, the vast majority on the taxpayer's teat no less, this gleaming new gem from which they would fatten their pockets by taking all of the ticket and concession and parking and advertising sales, every last cent, no matter how unseemly that felt.

To allay fears, they changed their name to the Miami Marlins, their colors to a rainbow vomiting, their image to reflect the city, hot enough that the New Yorker would profile them and Showtime would broadcast a documentary on them and free agents Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell would take the money. People actually bought into the thing, recognized them as a real team and not just some affiliate run by a couple of swindlers who had already screwed Montreal and were primed to do the same to another city.

It wasn't ever going to end any other way. You knew that. You knew. When Jeffrey Loria and David Samson are involved, it can't end any other way, because they know no different. Loria is the owner of the Marlins, Samson the president, and they're turning the Miami Marlins into a chop shop. Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante were traded first this week, to the Tigers. Then Hanley Ramirez, who until this year Loria regarded as the franchise, to the Dodgers. Next could be Josh Johnson, their homegrown ace.

That would be $32.75 million shed within a week, bringing the Marlins from their $100 million dream back to the bottom quarter of payrolls in baseball.

And Miami is stuck with $2.4 billion in stadium debt service for that.

This would be falling-down funny if it weren't so very sad. Two charlatans, ripping off a major American city and laughing all the way to the bank.

Read the complete Yahoo! Sports story here.

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