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Feds Add Criminal Investigation To Dan Snyder’s Woe And Misery

11:32 AM EDT on November 3, 2022

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Dan Snyder may or may not be selling the Washington Commanders. Profit motive would be a sufficient explanation in all other cases: Snyder purchased the franchise in May 1999 for a then-record $800 million; in the decades since that transaction, the Dolphins, Browns, Bills, and Panthers have all sold for at least $1 billion, and the Denver Broncos were sold this year for a whopping $4.5 billion. The Commanders organization is a wreck, largely as a consequence of Snyder's catastrophic stewardship, but when it sells, Snyder will become vastly more disgustingly cash-rich than he already is. That plus the fact that thousands of locals spend every other autumn Sunday loudly antagonizing Snyder from within his own building seem like a perfectly adequate reason to explore the offloading of this awful toxic thing.

But Dan Snyder is famously a stubborn, vindictive, power-hungry freak, and he has always seemed determined to hang onto the team until the moment of his death, and possibly beyond, possibly out of undiluted spite. When news broke this week of Snyder engaging the services of Bank of America to explore "possible transactions," it was easier to imagine Snyder seeking minority owners than to dare hope that he would give up his stake and willfully exit the ultra-exclusive billionaire's club of NFL ownership. But things are certainly going very poorly for the shrimpy asshole. He and his organization are enduring their second NFL-led investigation of the team's diseased internal culture in three years, after the first one resulted in Snyder being temporarily suspended from active ownership and hit with a $10 million fine. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform opened its own inquiry, and for a time Snyder was forced to go yacht mode in foreign waters in order to evade a congressional subpoena. The Federal Trade Commission was flagged in April about potentially unlawful deceptive business practices. Congresspeople are openly dunking on Snyder on social media as a campaign strategy. Worst of all, there are signs that Snyder's ownership peers, who have quietly hated him for a long time, are becoming emboldened about breaking ranks and calling for his removal, which can be accomplished by a three-fourths vote among owners.

Now this: ESPN reported Wednesday afternoon that the Commanders are being investigated for financial improprieties by the U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern District of Virginia. Snyder and the Commanders were already being investigated at the state and local level by the attorneys general of Virginia and Washington, D.C., which is I'm sure very annoying for Snyder but which is not quite so serious as a criminal investigation conducted by the Department of Justice. The Washington Post says federal investigators recently interviewed witnesses about allegations of cooked books and assorted other financial shenanigans, which were detailed in an April letter from the House oversight committee. Former employees who testified in the House inquiry alleged that the Commanders threw up barriers to prevent season-ticket holders from recouping refundable deposits, and underreported ticket sales in order to horde shareable revenue, including shifting ticket sales figures from Commanders home games to a Kenny Chesney concert and a 2014 college game.

Snyder's attorneys released a very funny statement to ESPN, claiming that the report of a criminal investigation is false and baseless and that when the criminal investigation is over, the team and its owner will be cleared of all charges:

"It is not surprising that ESPN is publishing more falsehoods based solely on anonymous sources -- given today's announcement," the statement said. "...We are confident that, after these agencies have had a chance to review the documents and complete their work, they will come to the same conclusion as the team's internal review -- that these allegations are simply untrue."

The walls are closing in on Snyder a little bit, but that does not yet mean that he will definitely sell the team. Even if he's closer than he's ever been, he may not find a deal that he likes better than continuing to thwart his peers and antagonize his team's dwindling fanbase. And when he does finally sell the team, he will become several billion dollars richer. Our world does not have functioning mechanisms for holding billionaires accountable; if you are hoping for a true downfall to close Dan Snyder's ownership of the Washington Commanders, you will only be disappointed. For now, it's enough to know that the puny sleazebag is almost certainly having the worst time of his professional life right now.

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