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Attorney Used in Miami Scandal by NCAA Has Complaint Filed Against Her
Maria Elena Perez, the third-party attorney at the center of the Nevin Shapiro/NCAA/Miami enforcement has been charged with three violations of the Florida Bar, according to CBS Sports.

The complaint was filed on Monday as the bar claims that Perez violated regulations involving diligence, competence and candor toward the tribunal in the case of Shapiro.

Francine Walker, a spokesperson for the Florida Bar, said that proceedings could take one year, but typically last anywhere from three to six months at a time. Walker also noted that sanctions could threaten the practice of Perez. If lighter sentences are handed down, Perez could see just a letter of reprimand.

The NCAA investigation of Shapiro was halted when the NCAA learned that Perez was used to obtain information. In September of 2011, Perez told the NCAA that she could use her subpoena power in a Shapiro bankruptcy proceeding to acquire information that the NCAA would not have been able to acquire any other way.



There are regulations within the NCAA as to how people can acquire information during a formal investigation. An external review was conducted and the NCAA supported the Florida Bar. The review found that the enforcement staff of the NCAA continued with the Perez assistance even though the NCAA legal staff warned against it.

Permission was granted for former enforcement director Julie Roe Lach to spend some $20,000 to use Perez in order to acquire information outside of the control of the NCAA.

The second in command at the NCAA, COO Jim Isch, “felt the University of Miami investigation was important enough to set aside a budget of about $15,000 for a potential expenditure of funds,” according to the complaint.

For her use of Perez, Lach was removed from her post in February of 2013. Isch did not receive discipline in the case. The NCAA received a bill from Perez for $65,000 and received a final payment of $18,325 from the organization.

The complaint states that Perez billed the NCAA for paralegal services while billing at a rate for an attorney. An external review was announced on January 24, 2013 by NCAA president Mark Emmert. Emmert said that 20 percent of the information gathered in the investigation was thrown out.

During the investigation, former enforcement officer Ameen Najaar was fired. Rich Johanningmeier retired prior to the completion of the case in October of 2013.

NCAA accepted the self-imposed two-year ban on bowl games by Miami as well as the removal of a couple of scholarships. Shapiro is in prison for 20 years for his role in a Ponzi scheme. According to the NCAA, Shapiro used cash and benefits to please Miami recruits and players.

A charge of competence from the Bar means that an attorney "requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation … for representation.”

A charge of diligence means that a lawyer must act using “reasonable diligence" when representing a client.

“Candor toward the tribunal” means that a lawyer will not issue a false statement or show false evidence.

04-17-2014

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