State and federal law officials have opened an investigation to determine if New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis violated wiretapping laws after allegations that a rigged device in his stadium suite allowed him to listen to opposing coaches’ conversations.
“With all allegations, we’ll see if state laws were violated, and if so, we’ll visit with the district attorney to see where we proceed.”
The FBI declined to say if it was investigating the allegations, which Loomis has vigorously denied. Local FBI spokeswoman Sheila Thorne would only say the bureau is “in receipt of the allegations” and would “have no further comment.” She also declined to say who made the allegations.
ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” reported Monday that an unidentified source claimed Loomis ordered a device in his Superdome suite be re-wired so he could listen to opponents’ conversations through his own earpiece from 2002 to 2004. The report said it is unknown if Loomis ever used the device, which was located in front of his seat.
The Superdome was re-wired and remodeled, following the damage it sustained after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and other upgrades made to the city’s landmark domed stadium, so that could make finding evidence of these allegations difficult.
Loomis could have violated state and federal wiretapping laws if he did listen to opponents without their knowledge, but the statute of limitations to prosecute him if he’s found to have used the device could have expired, based on the timeframe of the allegations. The federal statute of limitations is five years in such cases, and it’s six years according to Louisiana state law.
Even so, Loomis could face sanctions from the NFL if law enforcement or its own investigation finds wrongdoing. The league said the ESPN report was the first they’d heard of the wiretapping allegations but declined to say if it’s opening its own investigation.
“We heard the reports just as you did yesterday, and it’s something that U.S. attorney’s office will make a determination on and we’ll make a judgment from there,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday on “The Rich Eisen Podcast.” “We changed our technology a few years ago to where this would be impossible or near impossible to do in this day and age.”
Loomis, the Saints and other former team officials adamantly denied the claims. A team source said he wasn’t aware if law enforcement had interviewed Loomis about this recent accusation.
“This report on ESPN is absolutely false,” Loomis said in a statement e-mailed by the team. “I have a monitor in front of me in my booth that provides the league issued stats for the game. I have a small TV with the network broadcast and I have an earpiece to listen to the WWL-AM radio (flagship broadcaster) game broadcast. To think I am sitting in there listening … and or doing something with the offensive and defensive play calls of the opposing teams makes this story and the unnamed sources that provided the false information that much more less credible … it just didn’t happen.”
Edmonson said he hasn’t put a timeframe on the investigation, but “we owe it to the people involved to do an expeditious investigation but do a thorough investigation and fair investigation that maintains the highest level of integrity and professionalism.”
The allegations against Loomis come during an ugly offseason for the Saints, who are embroiled in a “bounty” scandal that resulted in coach Sean Payton being suspended for the season, Loomis for eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six. The team also was fined $500,000 and docked second-round draft picks this year and in 2013 for a bounty program that financially rewarded defensive players for hits that injured opponents.
Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.