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Mr. Laz
11-17-2006, 10:28 AM
Norfolk lawyer says he paid college stars

Jimmy Williams, left, and Shawne Williams. AP FILE PHOTOS


By TIM MCGLONE AND KYLE TUCKER, The Virginian-Pilot
November 16, 2006


NORFOLK - Atlanta Falcons cornerback and Hampton native Jimmy Williams and NBA rookie Shawne Williams received more than $100,000 in cash and other items from a Norfolk lawyer while they were college athletes, according to lawsuits filed against the players.

The lawyer, Carl C. La Mondue, is seeking repayment, plus interest, of $55,109 from Jimmy Williams and his father and $49,494 from Shawne Williams, according to the lawsuits filed Nov. 8 in Norfolk Circuit Court.

Jimmy Williams and Shawne Williams, who are not related, have not yet responded to the lawsuits. Both turned pro in the spring.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association prohibits its athletes from receiving benefits or signing with an agent while in school. The prohibition extends to family members and friends. The association rules state that prohibited benefits "may include, but are not limited to, transportation, money and gifts, regardless of the benefit or whether or not you use the benefit."

A spokeswoman for the NCAA said the association would not comment on potential or current investigations.

Jimmy Williams was an All-American at Virginia Tech, where he played four seasons as a defensive free safety and cornerback. School officials said Wednesday they were reviewing the allegations.

Jimmy Williams and his agent did not return phone calls.

An official of the University of Memphis, where Shawne Williams played one season before jumping to the NBA, said the university would investigate the allegations.

Happy Walters, the Los Angeles-based agent for Shawne Williams, said Wednesday that the allegations are "frivolous."

La Mondue, whose Web site says his firm is "ready to assist entertainers and athletes negotiate and prepare contracts," said Wednesday that he "did not want to comment on this."

"These are matters that are private," he said.

His suits did not specify why he paid the players.

While Jimmy Williams was a student at Virginia Tech, he and his father received from La Mondue $8,700 in merchandise, including clothes and shoes, phone service, hotel rooms and a tattoo, according to the suit. The remaining $46,000 and change were given in cash, the papers say. It does not itemize what was received by the father or the son.

The cash and merchandise were given between November 2004 and November 2005, the suit says. Jimmy Williams was a junior and senior at Tech those years.

Cash withdrawals ranging from $300 to $600 were made during that time in Ghent, Hampton and Blacksburg, the suit says. La Mondue says he is owed $1,500 by Jimmy Williams and his father for an appearance at the Hampton Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. La Mondue says he is owed $310 for the tattoo.

La Mondue also asserts that he is owed $2,187 for a shopping spree on Sept. 12, 2005, in which clothes, shoes and a car stereo were purchased, and a $500 cash transfer from that day.

Jimmy Williams was drafted by the Falcons in April and promptly bought a $250,000 to $300,000 Lamborghini. By then, he had signed with Phoenix-based agent Ethan Locke. His salary has been reported at $275,000 this year, plus a $625,000 signing bonus.

Virginia Tech officials said Wednesday they were not aware of the lawsuit, but upon learning of it they said they would review the allegations.

"Could it be a problem? Yeah, I guess it could be. This is the first I've heard of it," said Tim Parker, Virginia Tech's assistant athletic director for compliance.

"It's an interesting question," he said. "If this guy expected something in return... expected Jimmy to sign with his agency or endorse something on the back end, obviously that could be a problem."

Parker said any college student may obtain a credit card without violating NCAA rules, but going outside the banking system could be a problem. "It doesn't seem like the normal way, if someone was going to break a rule, that they would do it out in the open like that, charging things in their name."

Shawne Williams, a Pennsylvania native, left the University of Memphis after his freshman year and was signed this year by the Indiana Pacers. The 6-foot-9 rookie, reportedly being paid nearly $1.4 million this year, has yet to play a regular season game.

La Mondue says in the suit that he gave Shawne Williams more than $9,700 in hotel rooms, airfare and 2 1/2 years' worth of cell phone service. The rest was provided mostly in Western Union cash transfers, the suit says.

Walters, who signed on as Shawne Williams' agent in May when he was drafted, said the suit contains "a lot of wrong information."

"From what I understand from both parties, there's nothing there," he said by phone. "You get this all the time with athletes."

When asked whether his client received anything from La Mondue, Walters replied: "He did not, as far as I know. Unequivocally, he did not."

Bob Winn, Memphis' assistant athletic director for external affairs, said he planned to take the lawsuit to the school's attorney. "It certainly catches us off guard," he said.

He said the school instructs athletes upon arrival about the NCAA rules regarding gifts. He said the school works "to make sure we cover those areas very explicitly." Student-athletes sign documents saying they will follow the rules, he added.

Winn said the school is sensitive to such allegations because in the 1980s it lost two players who accepted gifts.

"It is a point that we take to heart here."


Reach Tim McGlone at (757) 446-2343 or tim.mcglone@pilotonline.com.

Lzen
11-17-2006, 12:20 PM
Hmmm, this could get interesting. What say you, Ultra Peanut?