Maurice Clarett was bankrolled by an alleged member of an Israeli crime organization after leaving Ohio State, ESPN has learned, and Clarett’s attorney said Thursday that his client may have been in possession of firearms last week to protect himself against mob activity.
Clarett’s attorney, Nick Mango, said Thursday that Clarett has repeatedly received death threats over the past year but that a cryptic postcard sent from Los Angeles last week has him wondering about Clarett’s ties to an alleged mob enforcer.
In the late summer of 2004, ESPN has learned, Clarett traveled to Los Angeles and was introduced by a rapper friend to Hai Waknine, 35, a convicted felon who federal prosecutors believe is a member of an Israeli crime organization called The Jerusalem Group. Waknine, who at the time was facing a federal indictment on extortion and money-laundering charges, became Clarett’s sponsor and adviser, along with Waknine’s attorney, David Kenner. Waknine provided Clarett with cash, a BMW, bodyguards, drivers and beachfront lodging in Malibu, Calif., with the understanding that he would be reimbursed and receive 60 percent of Clarett’s rookie contract.
After Clarett was arrested last week, allegedly wearing a bulletproof vest and possessing four guns and a hatchet, Clarett’s attorneys say they received an anonymous phone call alerting them to Clarett’s ties to Waknine. They grew more suspicious when they received the threatening postcard this week.
Mango said he is concerned that postcard, sent to his law office in Columbus, Ohio, may have come from Waknine.
“That’s our question, whether it’s from him or people associated with that scene out there,” Mango told ESPN. “Again, it came from Los Angeles, and we don’t know what to make of that. â€¦ We’re going to turn this over to someone in law enforcement and see what they think [of the postcard]. â€¦ We’ve always felt he had some reasons to fear for his safety, and we don’t think any of his actions the night he was arrested — despite the way it’s been spun — were that he was a threat to anyone else but more of him being in fear for his safety for quite some time.”
Mango also said he believes Clarett’s debt may have something to do with the threats.
Well duh, if you’re in hock to someone in organized crime, I think that’s a possible reason for threats against your life.
This theory proposed by the Clarett’s defense just seems nuts to me. Kind of reminiscent of some of the theories thrown up during OJ Simpson’s defense during his murder trial. Why would a mobster give a football player who isn’t even playing the arrangement Clarett’s attorney is suggesting? Would they also be sending threatening postcards?
If true, just one more bizarre twist to this young man’s life. Here’s hoping Clarett gets his act together before he is just one more statistic.
Hat tip- Below the Beltway
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