It’s been five months since the once-thriving Chicago Rush Arena Football League franchise finally folded.
But the real problems may only just be beginning for the team’s disastrous last owner.
David Staral Jr. — the three-times convicted felon the AFL allowed to seize control of its premier franchise without a background check — “knowingly and fraudulently made false oaths” when he hid his purchase of the indoor football team from a federal judge early last year, officials from the U.S. Trustee’s office allege.
Though papers filed in bankruptcy court this week by the U.S. Trustee’s office seek only to prevent Staral from dodging his debts, they could be a sign the city’s onetime youngest sports franchise owner may soon be facing more serious problems.
As first reported by the Sun-Times, the fiasco of 35-year-old Staral’s three-month reign at the Rush ended in May amid a mountain of unpaid bills and recriminations. Revelations at the time included the fact that Staral was on probation for theft when he bought the team, and allegations that he’d conned naive investors by posing as a Porsche-driving financial whiz kid.
The team — Arena Bowl champions in 2006 — folded in October after the league was unable to find a new owner.
Court papers filed this week paint Staral as a brazen liar who filed for bankruptcy in January 2013 but still somehow managed to buy the Rush a month later.
Just days after he gave a news conference at which he confidently predicted a “whole new ball game” for the Rush under his ownership, he allegedly failed to disclose his interest in the team at a meeting of his creditors, vowing under oath that he had no such business, the trustee’s office says.
Staral also hid from bankruptcy Judge Eugene R. Wedoff criminal convictions that required him to pay $5,000 a month in restitution to a previous employer he had defrauded out of $250,000, the trustee’s office alleges. The office is part of the U.S. Department of Justice and is supposed to ensure the legitimacy of bankruptcy court proceedings.
“The U.S. Trustee alleges that the defendant intentionally made one or more false oaths and accounts in connection with this case,” according to the court filing.
A spokeswoman for the office declined to comment on the case this week. But by law, the office is required to refer suspected crimes to the U.S. Attorney for potential prosecution. Statistics suggest bankruptcy fraud is a growing crime. Nationwide, charges were filed in 27 such cases last year.
Staral’s attorney, Julie Gleason, declined to comment Thursday.
But during an emotional interview last year Staral told the Sun-Times he didn’t know he was supposed to tell the bankruptcy court he’d bought a sports franchise.
“Maybe I didn’t think it all the way through,” he said.