ESPN’s John Barr is reporting that New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis had access to an electronic device that could listen in on opposing coaches. In the report, it is stated that this information was passed onto the US Attorney’s office for East Louisiana on Friday.
The device was alleged to have been originally installed in 2000 when Loomis’ predecessor Randy Mueller had the job. According to the report, Mueller only had the ability to use the device to monitor the game-day communications of the Saints coaching staff, not the opposing coaches. When Loomis took the job in 2002, he had it re-wired to listen only to the opposition and that he couldn’t use it to listen to Saints staff even if he wanted to.
In response, Loomis has emphatically denied the allegation as being “1000 percent false”. The embattled General manager, who already faces suspension from the “Bountygate” scandal, could face not only punishment from the NFL but also potentially a federal charge as the use of electronic devices for spying purposes is illegal under the ECPA – Electronic Communications Privacy Act – federal statute. Whether he can or not entirely depends on where his offences fall in terms of the statute of limitations.
The report states that the bug was deactivated in 2005 which falls outside the five year statute of limitations. However, if evidence were uncovered that Loomis or others made efforts to cover up the violation after 2007 then a prosecution could be brought. There is also the possibility for civil suits to be brought by those parties who were spied upon with these not being subject to the same limitation. For these civil suits, they could be brought at any time within two years of parties being first informed that they had been spied upon.
At this time, the NFL has declined to comment and when asked NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello said he had no knowledge of the allegations. Once all the facts are out and the allegations are proven true, there is a pretty clear precedent for punishment. When the Patriots were punished for “Spygate” there was a total of $750,000 worth of fines handed out and the Patriots lost a first round draft pick. That was for one proven incident however. If multiple incidents of the device’s use can be proven, the punishment could be far more severe.
No matter what, this report is yet another black mark on a severely damaged franchise. This is another sad day for football.