Yesterday, the Florida Bar formally filed ethics charges against Maria Elena Perez, the attorney who represented booster Nevin Shapiro and helped the NCAA illegally obtain evidence against the University of Miami. Perez is accused of 15 separate violations of Bar rules, in providing help for the investigation that resulted in postseason bans and a loss of scholarships.
Unable to compile enough evidence to nail the school, the NCAA put Perez on its payroll and had her gather information from witness testimony in unrelated bankruptcy cases against Shapiro. She is accused of deposing and questioning witnesses without informing them of her connection with the NCAA. The complaint indicates that she contacted a producer with HBO Sports and had them send a videographer to tape the depositions of Miami's equipment room manager and a sports agent with connections to Shapiro.
The NCAA's former enforcement director, Julie Roe Lach, authorized putting Perez on the NCAA's payroll, over the objections of the NCAA's legal staff. Lach was fired last year, as was investigator Ameen Najjar, featured in this text message to Perez:
According to the complaint, the NCAA's No. 2 executive, COO Jim Isch, "felt the University of Miami investigation was important enough to set aside a budget of about $15,000 for a potential expenditure of funds." Perez would bill the NCAA for over $65,000. She is accused of double-billing the NCAA for paralegal services for the same actions she billed at the attorney rate.
Here are some of Perez's invoices to the NCAA:
The NCAA would later claim it threw out 20 percent of the information it had gathered. Here, the full Florida Bar complaint against Perez: