Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Rodriguez linked with banned booster
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- One of the business partners involved in the real estate venture at the root of a federal lawsuit against Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is an accused felon and banned Clemson University booster.
The partner, Clegg Lamar Greene of Clemson, S.C., was arrested Dec. 29 and charged with multiple counts of breach of trust.
According to documents provided Wednesday by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Green is accused of pilfering thousands of dollars from Palmetto State Enterprises LLC between 2005 and 2007 to pay debts on various business deals, buy furniture and have cosmetic surgery.
Greene had set up the corporation several years earlier, using it to help fund several condominium developments -- including one involving Rodriguez, a former coach at Clemson. Bank documents list Greene, 71, as one of Rodriguez's co-investors on The Legends of Blacksburg, an 80-unit project overlooking Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va.
The connection between Greene and Rodriguez, first reported late Tuesday by the news site AnnArbor.com, comes as the second-year Michigan coach is scrambling to prepare for Saturday's season-opener and a chance to erase the bad memories of last year's 3-9 finish. He's already facing anonymous claims from players and former players who say the team practiced far more than is allowed by the NCAA.
Rodriguez wouldn't discuss his relationship with Greene when asked about it this week. "I'm not talking about the personal matters," he said Wednesday.
Mike Wilcox, a Toledo, Ohio-based adviser to Rodriguez, issued a statement Tuesday saying the coach had been the victim of a Ponzi scheme dating back to 2004. Wilcox has not returned calls seeking additional comment.
A Spartanburg, S.C.-based bank originally loaned Rodriguez and his partner more than $26 million for the condo project in September 2007, when Rodriguez was still coaching at West Virginia.
But as the project struggled amid the economic downturn, that amount was amended down to about $3.63 million -- the cost of only the land itself, according to loan documents filed with the court.
Last month, the bank sued Rodriguez in federal court in South Carolina, saying the coach owes $3.9 million -- the land cost, plus interest and fees -- for defaulting on a loan to build the condos.
When he partnered up with Rodriguez in September 2007, Greene had already been banned twice from being a booster at Clemson. NCAA investigators accused Greene in 2000 of providing a $1,300 loan and use of his boat to two Clemson recruits.
A university investigation found two minor infractions and officials disassociated Greene from the football program. He was later reinstated but was banned again last year, Clemson athletics spokesman Tim Bourret said.
What's unknown is whether Rodriguez -- who was offensive coordinator at Clemson from 1999-2000 -- knew about Greene's possible financial troubles when they took out the 2007 loan. According to arrest warrants, Greene began pilfering money from Palmetto State Enterprises as early as 2005, using thousands of dollars to make loans to another business he owned and to pay off debts for his Clemson residence.
In the next two years, authorities say, Greene stole thousands more from the business, this time paying for cosmetic surgery, furniture, as well as commissions related to another development project.
Greene faces up to 10 years in prison on each felony count. It was not clear Wednesday whether he has an attorney. There was no answer at a phone number listed for Greene, and his son -- also a named investor in the Virginia development -- did not immediately return a phone message left at his home.
Palmetto State Enterprises, Greene's business, is listed as the developer for two other developments at the Universities of South Carolina and Alabama:
- The Spur at Williams-Brice, a 69-condo unit in Columbia, S.C., next to the University of South Carolina's Williams-Brice stadium, and;
- The Legends of Tuscaloosa, a 60-condo unit in Tuscaloosa, Ala., next to the University of Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Greene has also faced a lawsuit from the very company he helped found.
In January 2008, attorneys representing Palmetto State Enterprises sued Greene. On Sept. 12, 2007, the still-pending suit alleges, other partners learned that its money "had been misappropriated and paid either directly or indirectly to Lamar Greene or on the account of Lamar Greene."
Nine days later, Rodriguez, Greene and three others borrowed the $26 million for the Virginia project.