By Zach Arnold | February 14, 2013
If you’re a fan of the fight game living in California and disgusted with the bureaucratic BS from the Department of Consumer Affairs chasing away good people from the fight business, I have some lousy news for you.
If you’re a fan of MMA living in Florida and disgusted with the state’s inability to attract shows because of the execrable nature in which the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation controls the Florida Boxing Commission, I have some lousy news for you, too.
First, the bad news about California. It never seems to stop, unfortunately. Anyone who has read the hundreds of posts I’ve written about California understands what a mess Sacramento has created. Che Guevara still has a job in the front office but his power has been taken away. When we last checked in with the Department of Consumer Affairs, the bureaucratic behemoth led by Denise Brown and Awet Kidane was trying to “research the legal basis” for confiscating overtime pay given to inspectors… in 2010. Of course, as we pointed out, the overtime pay was correctly issued to inspectors who are full-time state employees. Now that CSAC has imploded and new Executive Officer Andy Foster is desperately trying to repairs years worth of damage, DCA is pulling out all the illegal stops it can to save their image.
One of the architects of DCA’s endless stream of crappy legal opinions is Doreathea Johnson, a complete nitwit of a lawyer at the agency who puts her fingerprints on California State Athletic Commission business affairs. With DCA trying to figure out how to confiscate years-old money from athletic inspectors, the incompetent Johnson just got rewarded by Governor Jerry Brown… with a job promotion. Details here:
Doreathea Johnson, 61, of Sacramento, has been appointed deputy director, legal affairs division at the California Department of Consumer Affairs, where she has served since 2000. Johnson was senior staff counsel at the California Employment Development Department from 1994 to 2000 and administrative law judge for the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, Central Office of Appeals from 1992 to 1994. She worked at the California Employment Development Department as staff counsel and later staff counsel III from 1980 to 1992. Johnson earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $137,196. Johnson is a Democrat.
There is both good news and bad news for people in the California fight scene with this development. The bad news is that this hack doesn’t deserve the job appointment she’s receiving. Her meddling into the affairs of CSAC has caused, in my opinion, significant damage to good people who have been chased out of the combat sports industry.
The good news is, however, that she can no longer point the finger towards other lawyers at DCA for any of her actions that impact the California State Athletic Commission. Her profile has been raised and, thus, makes her a prime target in any lawsuit against DCA & CSAC in terms of attempting to get someone fired for cause. She better hope that the athletic inspectors currently being targeted by DCA do not file a lawsuit against them with the remedy being termination for cause because if she gets targeted in a lawsuit and gets terminated for cause, the 61 year old could lose her valuable state retirement pension. Given how much money she has made in Sacramento, the pension is worth good money.
So, there’s that dreadful bit of news.
However, if you’re an UFC/MMA fan in general in the state of Florida, I have some news for you that isn’t very promising in terms of seeing an increase in future Florida MMA show activity (especially when it comes to UFC returning to the state).
The Florida Boxing Commission: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss
Last October, FBC Executive Director Tom Molloy was abruptly fired. Molloy’s claim to fame before taking the Florida job was being a boxer in New York and losing to Tony Danza in a fight.
Molloy, in his 50s, ended up marrying Jami Alise McClellan (a 20-something). McClellan worked with Molloy at the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the state agency which controls the FBC. The embedded picture features McClellan receiving some sort of award from an event promoter. Talk about a conflict of interest. Then again, Florida’s DBPR is loaded with conflicts of interest.
The Florida DBPR is ran by Ken Lawson (appointed in May 2011) and Tim Vaccaro (appointed in October of 1990). Suffice to say, Vaccaro has some political juice here. He was around when Tom Molloy got his job at the Boxing Commission.
Christa Patterson, a lifer at the Florida DBPR (employed since 1985), was Molloy’s top assistant.
The reason Molloy got fired is because an internal state audit revealed that the commission was under-reporting revenue. Only 51 shows took place in a Fiscal Year. That’s one show a week in the entire state of Florida, which has 10 different media markets. Only 30 of the 51 shows had a post-event tax report… and only one of those 30 shows had a ticket/event manifest showing any sort of box office documentation.
As a result of the state audit, Molloy got fired. Cynthia Hefren, the state auditor/bean-counter who authored the audit report, was appointed by the DBPR to the Executive Director slot at the Florida Boxing Commission.
A funny thing happened on the way to Hefren’s appointment. Besides the fact that she has no experience in the fight game, the DBPR decided that Tom Molloy was the only person who should be fired in the scandal. Our research showed that Molloy’s wife (Jami Alise McClellan), Christa Patterson (Molloy’s assistant), Robin Kathleen Brown-Blake (the Florida state attorney who meddles in the Boxing Commission’s affairs), Tim Vaccaro (Molloy’s boss), and Ken Lawson (head of DBPR) all kept their jobs and are still on the DBPR taxpayer-funded payroll.
As of today, Patterson is still on DBPR payroll but has been moved out of the Assistant Executive Director slot. Replacing Patterson in the slot to help Hefren at the Commission is someone named Frank Gentile. If you don’t recognize the name, I will give you a primer and refresh your memory about some controversy he was involved in last year.
Frank Gentile is a former boxer who currently works as both a judge & referee at Florida fight shows. He works as a trainer at the Palm Bay Boxing Club in Palm Bay, Florida. As one knowledgeable MMA source put it, Gentile is a boxing guy and not an MMA guy. The same source also claims that Gentile was a political favorite of… Tom Molloy.
For MMA fans hoping to see the UFC return to Florida in the near future, those hopes were dashed by two issues that Zuffa encountered last June when they ran their event in Southern Florida. One, the gate sucked. Two, the officiating was lousy — and Frank Gentile was in the middle of the controversy.
Make Up the Rules as You Go
During the Dustin Pague vs. Jared Papazian match, ref Frank Gentile repeatedly admonished Papazian to get his feet off the cage while trying to fight off Pague’s rear naked choke try. The only problem is that there’s no such rule. It simply doesn’t exist. Fighters are not allowed to hold or grab the fence, but they can push off it at any time, according to the Unified Rules. In fact, the Unified Rules explicitly say “A fighter may place their feet onto the cage and have their toes go through the fencing material at any time,” with the caveat that they can not grab the fence with toes to manipulate their own or their opponent’s body position. I thought perhaps it was possible that Florida had amended it, but nope. I checked their regulations, and under Chapter 61K1-1, the only rule is against “holding the ropes or fencing.” Afterward, Papazian justly complained about the development, saying it went against everything he’d learned in the gym.
“It completely took away the defensive strategy that we had worked for this fight,” he said.
It should be noted that Molloy was still in power when this show happened last June. Gentile was allegedly one of his political favorites. Molloy also hated Mixed Martial Arts.
After the Page/Papazian debacle involving Frank Gentile, Molloy & DBPR went into spin control (as MMA Junkie reported).
(Dana) White, at the post-fight news conference, was in disbelief at Gentile’s actions, in particular.
“How about the guy who’s yelling at the fighters, saying, ‘You can’t touch the cage’?” White asked Friday at the post-fight news conference. “Like his body cannot touch the cage. What? There were others, too. It was bad. It was as bad as bad gets. I mean, when the ref is interfering with the fight – you’re not even supposed to know the ref is there. But that wasn’t the case tonight.”
Sandi Poreda, the director of communications for the FDBPR, told MMAjunkie.com what Gentile said was behind his actions – and also said Papazian has not appealed the decision with the commission. She said Gentile was making sure the toe-grabbing rule was followed, not incorrectly interpreting the rule or creating a new one on the spot.
“In the specific situation with Papazian’s feet on the cage, there was a miscommunication between the referee and the fighter,” Poreda said. “The referee was enforcing the rule that prohibits ‘grabbing’ the cage with one’s toes. The officials discuss each event after the event has concluded. This issue was discussed, and the officials were encouraged to communicate clearly with fighters. Jared Papazian has not appealed the decision.”
Eight months later, Gentile is now the de facto boss of the Florida Boxing Commission. Hefren’s simply the bean counter to collect the money. Hefren will make $89,000 a year, which is more than Andy Foster is getting paid for the utterly thankless job of trying to deal with the Department of Consumer Affairs in California. Gentile, in his new role at the Florida Boxing Commission, will make $55,000 a year.
It would be easy to say that Gentile had a foot in the door at DBPR because he was supposedly favored by Tom Molloy. Of course, for most businesses, being associated with someone whose reputation is (in our opinion) as toxic as Molloy’s would be a bad thing and not a good thing. Not when it comes to athletic commissions, apparently.
Gentile had two other contacts at the Florida DBPR that we discovered during our investigation of public records. It makes the news of his appointment at the Florida Boxing Commission intriguing, to say the least. From the state of Florida’s tax records:
This tax record from the state of Florida shows three Gentiles on the DBPR payroll now. Frank J Gentile is the new Assistant Executive Director of the Boxing Commission. His wife, Kathy T Gentile, is listed as having an hourly rate of $150. Joseph S. Gentile, who is supposedly related to the couple (according to public listings), is listed as having a $100 hourly rate at DBPR. If those rates aren’t typos, then where do I sign up to get a gig like that?
It’s nice to have friends in high places, apparently.
Addendum: A Florida source says there’s some good news and bad news about the tax record. The good news is that apparently the $150 and $100 rate figures are flat fee figures per fight show worked. The wife works as an event coordinator and the son is an inspector.
The bad news is that you have the father as the de facto commission boss while his wife and son are also working shows. In other words, another big fat conflict of interest.