Sports entrepreneur expected to plead guilty

August 25, 1994|By New York Times News Service

LOS ANGELES -- Bruce McNall, the former owner of the Los Angeles Kings hockey team and a rare coin dealer to the stars, is expected to plead guilty as soon as this week to four criminal counts related to a federal investigation of his banking practices, according to investigators and lawyers close to the case.

Mr. McNall, who is president of the Kings but sold his controlling interest in the team in May before being forced into bankruptcy, is being investigated by the U.S. attorney's office here for purportedly falsifying loan documents to borrow more than $200 million from banks, including Bank of America, according to people familiar with the agreement.

Federal prosecutors would not comment on the negotiations. Mr. McNall's lawyer, Tom Pollack, did not return telephone calls.

But investigators said Mr. McNall was unlikely to be arraigned before mid-September. The charges could include bank fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy, carrying a maximum sentence of at least 20 years in prison, according to the lawyers involved in the case.

On Tuesday, in the first charges stemming from the federal investigation, Joanna Orehek, a vice president and controller of McNall Sports and Entertainment Inc. of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to two criminal counts involving a scheme to defraud four ++ lenders of $128 million in loans.

Although Mr. McNall directly or indirectly controls scores of companies, his chief asset is McNall Sports and Entertainment, which owns sports franchises, film interests, horse racing and breeding stables, rare coins and sports memorabilia and auction houses.

The banks were Bank of America, National Trust and Savings Association, Bank of California, First Los Angeles Bank and Credit Lyonnais Bank Nederland.

Mr. McNall, 44, as recently as last year was considered to be a brilliant sports entrepreneur. He is perhaps best known for bringing Wayne Gretzky to the Kings from the Edmonton Oilers in Canada in 1988, the year he bought the team.

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