In a civil lawsuit, two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning, is being accused of working with memorabilia dealer Steiner Sports to knowingly sell false “game-used” memorabilia to collectors and fans. On April 13, an incriminating email obtained by the New York Post emerged claiming The New York Giants quarterback asked an equipment manager for “2 helmets that can pass as game used.”
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Brian Brooks, claimed the email is “direct evidence that Manning knowingly gave fraudulent helmets to Steiner for sale to fans.” Although Brooks gives credit to Manning and his attorney for disclosing the email, he also accuses them of deleting other emails that would have incriminated Manning even further. The lawsuit also names Steiner Sports and the equipment manager Joe Skiba.
Fox Sports’ Skip Bayless had a fairly critical evaluation on the situation and believes the scamming goes beyond Eli and all the way up the Giants franchise. “If half of this is true — and to me, a whole lot of it rings very true, this is just me from a distance — this was a cesspool inside a proud franchise,” Bayless said. “This was a cesspool of fraudulent memorabilia sales. And it was signed off on and overseen by the Giants management going all the way to the top of the franchise. It was an internal, in-house racket.”
However, the Giants and their legal team are backing Eli and their innocence. Karren Kessler, a spokesperson for the law firm of McCarter & English, which represents the Giants, said in a statement, “The email, taken out of context, was shared with the media by an unscrupulous memorabilia dealer and his counsel who for years has been seeking to leverage a big payday,” said Kessler, “The email predates any litigation, and there was no legal obligation to store it on the Giants server. Eli Manning is well-known for his integrity and this is just the latest misguided attempt to defame his character.”
However, on Friday, the New York Post reported that he could possibly dodge legal punishment by the FBI and New Jersey state prosecutors due to the statute of limitations. The federal statute of limitations is 5 years – and in New Jersey, it is six. The email Manning and his attorney disclosed was from 2010. This doesn’t mean Eli Manning is in the clear. According to the New York Post, if evidence of a fraud within the last five years emerges, then the emails can be used.
Robert Ray, a former prosecutor and attorney with Thompson & Knight, told the New York Post that “a conspiracy is chargeable even if some of the conduct occurs more than five years ago so long as you have an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy that happened within five years.”
Eli and the Giants could still face legal punishment, but more evidence will have to come to light before any of that happens.