By Tim Graham
The prank callers who eavesdropped on Buddy Nix and Mark Dominik could be in a load of trouble with the law in New York, in Florida and with the feds.
"These kids shouldn’t be doing any sack dances just yet," Buffalo trial attorney Terry Connors said.
Jurisdiction will be an issue. Prosecutors will need to determine where the crime was committed. The unknown location of the prank callers could be it.
"It's going to be subject to analysis, but there very well may be a number of state or federal statutes that have been violated," Connors said, "and it will be up to the various prosecutors to determine if there will be charges."
In New York, where the Buffalo Bills' GM fielded the original call and placed the one that was taped, recording a phone conversation is permissible only if one of the parties is privy. One law enforcement source I spoke with this afternoon considers the audio posted on Deadspin.com to be a clear case of felony eavesdropping, punishable by up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
If the telephone jokers gained anything from the trick, then they also could be charged in New York with misdemeanor criminal impersonation for pretending to be Dominik, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' general manager, when they initiated the call.
If it can be proven the pranksters made a "material misrepresentation," then the federal government could charge them with wire fraud. Punishment is up to 20 years in prison and $250,000.
Florida's laws are different. Both parties must grant permission for a phone call to be recorded.
"If they can show the crime was committed in that state, it's an easier standard for the prosecution to prove," Connors said.
After all that, civil lawsuits could be filed for damaging the Bills' or Buccaneers' ability to do business if what was released on that recording hindered the ability to make personnel moves.
"If I were their lawyer, I would tell them not to do any interviews and keep their mouths shut," Connors said. "I would lay low and hope that people let this pass by without any further activity."
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