Criminal charges of assault and battery against the teams, including Williams, are possible, said Ryan Rodenberg, an attorney and a sports management professor at Florida State University.
Rodenberg said that in 2000, Canadian prosecutors brought assault charges against Boston Bruins hockey player Marty McSorley for smashing Vancouver Canucks player Donald Brashear in the head with a hockey stick. As a result of the blow, Brashear struck his head on the ice, lost consciousness and suffered memory lapses. McSorley was sentenced to 18 months probation and banned from playing for that period.
Although the case did not involve bounty payments, it illustrates the willingness of prosecutors to get involved in situations involving intentional hits, Rodenberg said. Criminal charges related to the bounty scandal could arise from the various jurisdictions where injuries occurred.
Federal prosecutors could also bring charges, said Paul Callan, a former New York City prosecutor who is an attorney at New York's Callan, Koster, Brady & Brennan. If bounties were paid for games played outside a team's home state, then interstate telephone calls, computer use and travel could trigger federal charges, he said.
Possible charges could include wire fraud, conspiracy and racketeering, Callan said. Tax evasion charges were another possibility for the money that players earned for making big hits.
"Things could get interesting," Callan said.
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