Saturday February 13th 2021
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On Friday, the US attorney in Boston announced that the former chief operating officer of Global Premier Soccer (GPS), a now-defunct youth soccer organization based in Waltham, Massachusetts, was charged with visa fraud in connection with a widespread conspiracy. GPS ran youth soccer programs nationwide and was a major player in youth sports in New England.
The conspiracy has been linked to a number of individuals and a group of women’s football teams, including one that is in part mostly New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and his wife, Tammy, as well as former Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Steven H. Temares, belongs.
This women’s team – New Jersey Sky Blue FC, led by star players like US national team superstar Carli Lloyd – is identified in court documents filed by US attorney.
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On Friday, Justin Capell, 39, the former COO of GPS who lives in Southborough, Massachusetts, was indicted and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit Visa fraud.
According to court records, from at least 2016 through October 2019, Capell partnered with other GPS executives and employees, as well as an outside GPS attorney, to defraud multiple federal agencies by filing fraudulent visa applications to secure work visas for hundreds of GPS employees.
In particular, it is alleged that Capell and his co-conspirators made fraudulent visa applications on behalf of at least seven professional soccer teams in order to obtain visas for GPS’s overseas coaching team. GoLocal has learned that one of the seven soccer teams involved in the effort is Murphy’s Sky Blue Club.
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GoLocal has backed up emails describing the scheme. Both Murphy and Temares are copied in multiple emails between GPS, Sky Blue and their lawyers negotiating a deal.
According to the US Attorney’s Office, the visa applications falsely stated that the beneficiaries would work as boy scouts or assistant coaches for the professional teams when in fact they were only employed as youth football coaches by GPS.
The US Attorney’s Office alleges that, in the context of the conspiracy, Capell and others submitted false employment contracts between professional teams and the alleged beneficiaries … According to the government, the government also alleges that Capell and co-conspirators fraudulently engaged in coaching licenses for the beneficiaries included in the visa application packages. “
According to the US attorney, a “second facet of the conspiracy was to submit fraudulent visa applications for foreign workers who were supposed to work for GPS partners in one part of the country but were sent to work in different parts of the states.”
In some cases, it is alleged that conspirators directed visa recipients to mislead U.S. immigration officials and gave them detailed instructions on how to answer questions during their visa interviews.
In an email, Christy Holly, then coach of Sky Blue, wrote to Phil Murphy, Temares and others, “Folks: I have a general understanding of the relationship you have with the Breakers and I believe it is two separate ones Parts there. One is for tickets / sponsorship without mentioning P1s and the other is the P1s that are tied to scouting. “
“I think what happened to this document is that it was pulled out of a document that was supposed to contain GPS, which the Sky Blue Academy also runs. Since GPS is available in 21 states, Canada, the UK and Costa Rica we justify it in my opinion I hope this helps – it may be best to speak to the GPS CEO for more specific information, “Holly continued.
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In a separate email on the deal between GPS and Sky Blue, Capell describes the deal in detail: “International Player Contract:
The duration of any approved P-1 visa is determined by the expiration date of the International Players contract. This player must also have a P-1 visa. To this extent, the visa and / or the applicant is bound to the contract of a Sky Blue FC International Player.
This language has been included in the proposed draft contract to ensure that the GPS operator receives a Sky Blue
FC P-1 visa is granted the maximum possible status duration. We understand that contracts for international players can’t
Exceed 2 years. Therefore, please note that the P-1 visa may be less valid depending on the time of application
than 2 years. Essentially, GPS would try to ensure clarity about the duration of the international player contract before
Executing this agreement to avoid the possibility of only obtaining a short term visa (less than 18 months) in return for the $ 50,000 effort. “
The email states in several places that GPS will pay Murphy and Temares’ Sky Blue $ 50,000 as part of this deal.
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Former coach Holly, who could be reached by phone on Friday night, said he didn’t know the visa recipients who were supposed to be looking for the team had ever worked with the club. “I’ve never had a direct relationship with them,” said Holly. “You never showed it.”
Holly said the deal is the responsibility of the general manager – who at the time of the deal was GM Tony Novo.
This is not the first controversy to have been linked to ownership.
In 2018, Murphys’ team came under fire for running the team, according to northjersey.com.
Murphy’s team has been investigated for “alleged mismanagement and poor living conditions for its players”.
“I find the status quo intolerable – and these players deserve better,” Murphy said in a July 2018 statement. “They deserve to be in a professional and supportive environment so that they can do what they do best can – play that. ” play, inspire fans and build community through the power of the world’s most popular sport. “
Then, in 2019, the NY Post reported additional issues with Murphy’s team.
“Sky Blue FC’s new Star Draft Picks are refusing to sign with the team on reports of deplorable housing and training conditions – including non-functioning bathrooms – and systemic mismanagement. Players have had to grapple with showerless locker rooms and shabby accommodations according to reports and Perverted Landlords Not even a phone call from the Democratic governor himself could convince the Jersey girl and Julia Ashley, number 6 of the overall designs, to join her hometown team this season.
Murphy “just kind of told me,” You have to take a little leap of faith with us “and see how everything will be more structured in terms of life and facilities and things.” Ashley told ThinkProgress. Instead, Ashley – who starred at UNC Chapel Hill – will play for Linkopings FC in Sweden. “
Dan Bryan, senior advisor on strategic communications at Murphy’s State House communications office, referred GoLocal’s questions about the federal investigation and Murphy’s involvement in Sky Blue.
Specifically, Bryan referred GoLocal to Sky Blue spokeswoman Karen Kessler – an outside public relations consultant who specializes in crisis communications. She told GoLocal: “My company has been representing Sky Blue for 2 years.” GoLocal submitted a series of questions to Kessler and she did not answer.
GoLocal also submitted questions directly to Murphy’s personal email and he didn’t respond.
Questions remain, including why the Murphys and Termares did not raise concerns when the “Scouts” failed to report or provide assessment / scouting reports to the team.
The US Attorney’s Office stated: “In May 2020, Gavin MacPhee, a former GPS employee, pleaded guilty to destruction of records in connection with this investigation.
The prosecution law provides for up to five years ‘imprisonment, three years’ custody release and a fine of $ 250,000. Sentences are passed by a federal district judge based on U.S. sentencing guidelines and other legal factors. “
According to the US Attorney’s Office, the Capell hearing has not yet been scheduled by the court.
A straight RI tie is Steve Griffin, the author of Front Row Seat – Greed and Corruption in a Youth Sports Company. The Providence resident was instrumental in the unveiling of the GPS system.
Editor’s Note: The story was updated on 2/13/21 at 9:11 am to clarify the referral of questions from Governor Murphy’s office to the team.