The saga of former Ohio State football star Maurice Clarett has taken yet another bizarre turn. Now, his attorneys are saying that he has links to an Israeli Mafia group.
Maurice Clarett was bankrolled by an alleged member of an Israeli crime organization after leaving Ohio State, ESPN has learned, and Clarett’s attorney said Thursday that his client may have been in possession of firearms last week to protect himself against mob activity.
Clarett’s attorney, Nick Mango, said Thursday that Clarett has repeatedly received death threats over the past year but that a cryptic postcard sent from Los Angeles last week has him wondering about Clarett’s ties to an alleged mob enforcer.
In the late summer of 2004, ESPN has learned, Clarett traveled to Los Angeles and was introduced by a rapper friend to Hai Waknine, 35, a convicted felon who prosecutors believe is a member of an Israeli crime organization called The Jerusalem Group. Waknine, who at the time was being indicted on extortion and money-laundering charges, became Clarett’s sponsor and adviser, along with Waknine’s attorney, David Kenner. Waknine provided Clarett with cash, a BMW, bodyguards, drivers and beachfront lodging in Malibu, Calif., with the understanding that he would be reimbursed and receive 60 percent of Clarett’s rookie contract.
But when Clarett was released by the Denver Broncos in August 2005, he was unable to pay Waknine back, and ESPN has learned that Waknine eventually cut off Clarett financially. Clarett moved back to his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, that fall.
And now it appears that Waknine may be threatening Clarett:
After Clarett was arrested last week, allegedly wearing a bulletproof vest and possessing four guns and a hatchet, Clarett’s attorneys received an anonymous phone call alerting them to Clarett’s ties to Waknine. They grew more suspicious when they received the threatening postcard this week.
Mango said he is concerned that postcard, sent to his law office, may have come from Waknine.
“That’s our question, whether it’s from him or people associated with that scene out there,” Mango told ESPN. “Again, it came from Los Angeles, and we don’t know what to make of that. ? We’re going to turn this over to someone in law enforcement and see what they think [of the postcard]. ? We’ve always felt he had some reasons to fear for his safety, and we don’t think any of his actions the night he was arrested — despite the way it’s been spun — were that he was a threat to anyone else but more of him being in fear for his safety for quite some time.”
Mango also said he believes Clarett’s debt may have something to do with the threats.
I knew that Clarett had fallen in with a bad crowd after he left OSU, but I didn’t know it was this bad.