Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (6th in a series – McMahon Defense Lawyer’s Husband Floated a $350,000 Offer to the Prosecution’s Star Witness)

“[Vince] would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

Linda McMahon “CONFIDENTIAL INTEROFFICE MEMO” to Pat Patterson, December 1`, 1989

***

“At no time did they ever charge anybody with any kind of obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting…”

World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt to Ted Mann of New London’s The Day

++++++++++

As recounted in a post at this blog on December 24, 2009, Laura A. Brevetti headed the defense team for Linda and Vince McMahon’s wrestling company when it was tried in federal court in 1994, along with Vince himself. See “Linda McMahon’s Husband Vince Fought the Law, and the Law Lost (Part 4 – The Defense Lawyer, the ‘Fixer,’ and the Playboy Model),” https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2009/12/24/linda-mcmahon%E2%80%99s-husband-vince-fought-the-law-and-the-law-lost-part-4-%E2%80%93-the-defense-lawyer-the-%E2%80%98fixer%E2%80%99-and-the-playboy-model/.

In 2008 Brevetti joined K&L Gates, the McMahons’ long-time Pittsburgh-based law firm, whose other partners include perhaps their most trusted adviser, Jerry McDevitt. Another K&L Gates partner is John P. (Jack) Krill Jr., who is alleged by the Linda McMahon Senate campaign and World Wrestling Entertainment to have received a tip from a federal prosecutor about an investigation of wrestling ring doctor and illegal steroid pusher George Zahorian.

Vince McMahon and the McMahons’ company, then called TitanSports, were acquitted at the 1994 trial. A year later William Bastone of New York’s Village Voice wrote a long article about the shady activities of Laura Brevetti’s husband, Martin Bergman, in numerous criminal cases and scenarios. (“The Fixer: Journalist. Private Eye. Mole. Snitch. It’s all in a day’s work for Marty Bergman, the Zelig of New York’s information highway,” Village Voice, December 19, 1995.)

Here’s what Bastone wrote about Brevetti and Bergman in the McMahon trial:

… Bergman is under criminal investigation for separate maneuverings around the McMahon trial, particularly for trying to induce a key prosecution witness to taint herself by taking money on the eve of McMahon’s trial.

Saying he was a producer for the tabloid TV program A Current Affair, Bergman approached McMahon’s former secretary, Emily Feinberg, baiting her with $350,000 in return for a tell-all TV interview and work as a consultant on a supposed Fox movie about McMahon. Bergman was also in regular contact with Feinberg’s attorney, Steven Hyman, floating various money-making proposals, all of which would require Feinberg to dish dirt on McMahon and the WWF.

Hyman declined to speak with the Voice about his dealings with Bergman, saying that Feinberg and her husband, Michael, also a former WWF hand, did not want to speak with a reporter. However, several people familiar with the investigation have provided a detailed account of Bergman’s activities. Federal agents launched the probe last year after top officials in the Brooklyn prosecutor’s office learned of Bergman’s contact with Feinberg, his role in the Observer story, and his relationship with Brevetti. Law enforcement officials are examining whether Bergman, by offering cash to Feinberg, was illegally trying to set up “false impeachment” to be used against Feinberg during cross-examination. In a pretrial motion, Brevetti described Feinberg as the government’s “star witness” against McMahon.…

After a series of Bergman contacts with Hyman in early 1994, Emily Feinberg agreed to meet Bergman with her lawyer at Sparks Steak House. Over dinner, Bergman offered no details of how Feinberg’s payments would be structured, only that “we’re talking about the threes,” a reference to more than $300,000. Blowing more smoke, Bergman also claimed that he wanted Sylvester Stallone to play McMahon in the Fox TV movie. Feinberg was convinced that Bergman’s entreaties were an attempt to get her to take money, which would then be used to discredit her testimony against McMahon. Until right before trial, Feinberg, who repeatedly rebuffed Bergman, was unaware that her pursuer lived and worked with Brevetti. [Bergman and Brevetti married later that year.]

A Current Affair reporter John Johnston said last week that Bergman did some work for him as a paid freelancer on two WWF pieces–one aired in late 1993 and the other in April 1994–and that Bergman served as the “liaison” between him and McDevitt, one of McMahon’s lawyers. Bergman’s main contribution, though, was tracking down the whereabouts of Feinberg so “we were able to ambush her outside of her home.” Johnston added that Bergman’s talk with Feinberg of a six-figure deal was not on behalf of the TV tabloid.

Johnston claimed that until the Voice told him, he was unaware of Brevetti’s and Bergman’s personal relationship. “You’re kidding me. Oh my God,” Johnston said. “I had no idea, no clue whatsoever.” (Bergman’s apparent need-to-know approach to news of his marriage extended to two long-term business contacts interviewed last month. Bergman never told either person–one a lawyer, the other a real estate broker–that he had married Brevetti last September; in fact, neither professional knew he had any relationship with the defense lawyer.)

Bergman himself was subpoenaed during the McMahon trial and, if he had been called to testify, would have been queried about his contacts with Hyman and Feinberg….

The Voice has also learned that Bergman figured in another intrigue involving Feinberg and her husband. Michael Feinberg, who used to write scripts for the WWF, had drafted a book proposal dealing with his stint with McMahon; the outline did not promise an expose, but rather a comical look at the WWF. Bergman learned about the proposal through conversations with Hyman, sources said. Four days before McMahon’s trial opened, Brevetti served the Feinbergs with a subpoena calling for copies of any book proposals, outlines, or treatments prepared by the Feinbergs.

The request for the documents was denied by Judge Jacob Mishler, but the subject came up at the end of Brevetti’s cross-examination of Feinberg. Asked if she had any intention of writing a book, Feinberg said no. Brevetti then asked if Feinberg had collaborated with her husband on any book project dealing with the WWF. Again Feinberg said no. Her answers were accurate since Michael Feinberg alone had prepared the book proposal, a project his wife opposed.

Johnston said Bergman promised, but failed, to arrange an interview with McMahon before the WWF trial. With the proliferation of tabloid TV shows, the competition to line up such exclusives is intense, since these “gets,” as they are called in the television industry, drive the ratings. Bergman has tried his hand at arranging a few “gets,” but with limited success.

Irv Muchnick

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