ESPN Founder Enters Plea to Charges
Feb. 24, 2002
NAPLES, Fla. (AP) _ ESPN founder William Rasmussen, charged with corruption for a failed golf enterprise, has pleaded innocent to four counts of felony fraud in a separate case.
Rasmussen returned to Naples from his home in Beaufort County, S.C., and turned himself in on Friday. He pleaded innocent to one count of organized fraud and three counts of communications fraud. He was later released from the Collier County Jail after paying a $10,000 bail.
He is accused in the new case of bilking three investors out of $50,000 in a stock swindle involving Stadium Naples and the A.S. Goldmen brokerage, special prosecutor Michael Von Zamft said.
Rasmussen was the promoter for Stadium Naples, a golf course development in North Naples.
A.S. Goldmen owner Anthony Marchiano has been convicted of a scheme to manipulate stock in a financially failing New Jersey company, Millennium Sports Management Inc., that partnered on Rasmussen's failed golf arena plans in Florida.
Rasmussen's attorney, Jerry Berry, has said other investigators have concluded Rasmussen did nothing wrong in the A.S. Goldmen case.
Rasmussen faces more than 30 years in prison if convicted of the new charges.
Rasmussen is one of five defendants charged with corruption in connection with Stadium Naples, the failed plan for a golfing development. The others have pleaded no contest in the case.
The men are accused of conspiring to use financial benefits from the stadium to cull favorable treatment from four county officials.