At one point, the Washington Attorney General's Office had called him a "fraud" but there may be some vindication for former Seahawks star Sam Adams.
The Pro Bowl defensive tackle was accused of stealing wages from employees at the fitness clubs he once owned. Now those charges have been dismissed.
Adams spoke to KIRO 7 along with his attorney. They theorized that AG Bob Ferguson’s office originally went after him because he is a former Seattle Seahawk.
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But Adams and his attorney David Smith of law fire Garvey-Schubert-Barer say he was the victim of fraud, and a simple forensic audit shows that.
The AG’s office says the people who used to work at his athletic clubs will be paid back wages they never received.
Adams says the end of his legal drama is welcome to him and many others.
“It's a relief for my family. I mean, we can move on, we have no charges being brought against us, we're excited about that,” Adams said.
Adams faced wins and losses on the football field, but facing criminal charges for the last several years was a different ballgame, and with charges being dropped Adams defended himself as it seemed the clock ran out for the prosecution,. “I was wrongfully accused, so to speak....football does a lot of things to build character, build strong shoulders,. I know I was innocent.”
In 2015, Ferguson said if you cheat people of their wages or you cheat the state of Washington, you will be held accountable.
Ferguson’s office set its legal sights on Adams and accused of him of not paying his employees.
Now in late 2017, the AG has changed his tune, with no charges against Adams. “It was unjust what they did. They brought me into court and charged me after I reported that we were having a problem with the billing company.”
Adams insists that the billing company he was dealing with was the true culprit behind the wage theft allegations. “When my members would pay for their memberships, the money would go to the billing company, the billing company would send it to other health clubs.”
The AG’s office said Hollystone Holdings pleaded guilty to charges and will pay the employees back wages.
Adams says the fact that he’s not facing charges proves his perspective. “They (the AG) couldn't get it done because I was innocent. If I was guilty, they would have had this done a long time ago.”
In a release to KIRO 7, Ferguson's office announced that former employees of West Seattle Athletic club will receive restitution. “Wage theft is a crime and I will not stand for violators who cheat working families out of their hard-earned wages,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson added that pursuant to the agreement, the company will pay restitution in an amount that will equal the total amount owed to former employees who were never compensated for their back wages.
While the exact amount is not yet known, it is expected to be in the thousands of dollars. He made it clear that if the conditions of the agreement are not met, the state reserves the right to re-file charges against Adams.
The former Seahawk Pro Bowler called the fraud charges baseless.
Attorney David Smith says an investigation and forensic audits proved Adams was a victim of financial fraud perpetrated by the billing company he had hired to provide services for the six athletic clubs in Washington and Oregon, which he jointly owned with his brother and wife.
“Today’s dismissal reflects the truth: Sam’s fitness clubs failed because they were being systematically cheated by their billing company,” Smith said “No one on the government side took the steps needed to conduct a forensic audit, thus the obvious fraud by the billing company was not detected by government investigators…if the basic requirements of criminal investigation had been followed, Sam and his former business associate would never have been charged, employees would have received their final paychecks and Sam and his family would have been spared years of needless heartache and expense.”
As for the apology to Adams, the AG's office says their attorney made a gracious comment in court, but they didn't call it an apology to Adams, and re-iterated that they could re-file charges against him.
Smith said the statute of limitations could prevent that scenario. He added that the state simply doesn't have a case against his client.
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