Thursday, May 14, 2015

Lawsuit alleges corruption in West Virginia Athletic Commission

A lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court in Charleston accuses three current and former members of the West Virginia Athletic Commission of 61 acts of racketeering. 
The commission is the governing body of boxing and mixed martial arts events in the Mountain State. However, according to the lawsuit filed by Christopher MacCorkle Smith and ACR Promotions, instead of promoting the sport of fighting, “member of the commission have focused their attention on personal gain and graft.” 
Smith and ACR promote “tough man” competitions such as the “Rough N Rowdy Brawl” and “Ruckus in the Cage.” In their lawsuit, they accuse current and former commissioners Steven A. Allred, Douglas E. Pauley and Brian Simpson of forcing fight promoters to hire the defendants’ family and friends as judges and officials at their events, even when additional officials were unnecessary, and often at rates two, three and four times the amounts set by West Virginia law. The lawsuit also accuses the defendants of forcing promoters to give them ringside seats to events, which in turn were given to the defendants’ friends, family, business associates and political connections. 
The lawsuit states that a February 2014 event at the Williamson Fieldhouse clearly illustrates the “thorough and pervasive corruption” of the commission. During that event, the plaintiffs say they were forced to hire seven officials at rates two and three times the legal rate, even though at least one of the positions was not needed. In addition, one of the officials demanded 10 guest passes worth 200 dollars each. Smith and ACR are asking for 1-point-4 million in damages. 
We attempted to contact the commission, but it is not listed in the state government directory. We were able to reach Steven Allred, but he refused to comment on the lawsuit beyond saying he is no longer affiliated with the commission. When we contacted Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s office, the only number the office could provide was Allred’s. And the official website for the commission now takes visitors to a page for a Pennsylvania septic service company. 
EKB will continue to follow this story and bring you more information, as it becomes available.