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Agent's Documents Don't Exist

Some documents that sports agent William "Tank" Black claims exonerate him of charges he made payments to college players do not exist, according to the NFL Players Association and the state attorney's office.

The NFLPA is accusing Black of giving money to players before their eligibility had expired at Florida, South Carolina and LSU. The agent submitted a formal response to the NFLPA's disciplinary complaint against him Tuesday.

The response refers to affidavits and statements made under oath by former Gators Johnny Rutledge, Jevon Kearse and Reggie McGrew last April. It said the statements are believed to be in possession of University of Florida campus police or the NFLPA.

If those statements exist, they would contradict the admission Rutledge made in May that he had taken $500 payments from Black over the period of a year. Rutledge also said that he, McGrew and Kearse had made sworn affidavits admitting the same.

The incriminating statements have not been made public because of an investigation by University of Florida police into Black's activities on campus.

As for the original statements, chief assistant state attorney Bill Cervone told The Associated Press the players might have made them, but he knows of no written record of them.

"They made oral statements in preliminary interviews with law enforcement," Cervone said. "But to my knowledge, there is no signed affidavit taken by law enforcement saying `He didn't give me anything."'

NFLPA lawyer Richard Berthelsen told AP the same thing Monday.

"I am not aware of any written statements that exist in which these players denied receiving cash payments," Berthelsen said. "I am aware of statements that exist to the contrary."

University police spokeswoman Stacy Badics did not immediately return telephone messages left at her office. Previously, police had referred questions about the original statements to the state attorney's office.

Black claims records of the statements do exist and should be considered by the NFLPA disciplinary committee when it determines whether to revoke or suspend his license. The disciplinary committee will decide his fate sometime this month.

Black said the claim that the statements aren't there is more proof of a conspiracy by the union and other agents to kick him out of the agent business.

"Everybody knows that these players took sworn statements the weekend of the draft," Black said. "It was shocking to me that anyone would say they were not aware of those statements. Everyone knows they're there. It's never been an issue."

In a sworn statement included in Black's reply, former Gator Mike Peterson, who was also a subject of the investigation, talked about two meetings in which he was questioned. The first came at the state attorney's office in April, the second at the police station about a month later.

Askd if police took a sworn statement or just notes during the first meeting, Peterson replied: "I believe it was a sworn statement, as well as notes."

Asked if he was taped or simply asked to tell the truth, Peterson replied: "Just swore me in to tell the truth."

Peterson said he went to the state attorney's office after receiving a subpoena. He said NFLPA representative Trace Armstrong was present during the meeting.

Even if the statements did exist, Cervone said their credibility would come into question.

"An initial denial of everything is so common in any criminal prosecution that it doesn't faze me a bit," Cervone said. "That happens all the time, unfortunately, especially from people complicit in wrongdoing."

Black claims the players changed their statements because of pressure applied by police.

Violation of Florida's agent law carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

If some record of the exonerating statements exists, they would be made available to Black if university police bring charges, Cervone said.

"I don't believe there exists any of what they're referring to," Cervone said. "But if there are charges placed against him, he will get everything law enforcement has gathered in the case -- good, bad and ugly."

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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