Former Global Premier Soccer COO Charged in Visa Fraud Scheme
It has been a long time coming … rumors of the DOJ handing down indictments have existed before the pandemic. Hushed stories of the Global Premier Soccer headquarters being raided by authorities along with confusing denials of any wrong doing by its founder Joe Bradley created split loyalties and eventually led to the collapse of a youth soccer organization that once had tens of thousands of players.
Finally, the Department of Justice has spoken. The now defunct Global Premier Soccer (GPS) has had its former top leadership charged with wide-ranging visa fraud conspiracy.
“Getting involved with GPS and its parent company, Legacy Global Sports has been nothing short of a nightmare for myself and others who were mislead,” said Stephen Griffin, former CEO of Legacy, the parent company of Global Premier Soccer.
“We can only hope that lessons will be learned and the youth sports industry will be cleaned up as a result.”Stephen Griffin, former CEO of Legacy Global Sports
The Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Massachusetts has charged the former Chief Operating Officer of Global Premier Soccer (GPS) Justin Capell, 39, of Southborough, Mass in a wide-ranging visa fraud conspiracy.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. JUSTIN CAPELL, Defendant – Criminal No. 21cr10056 Violation: Count One: Conspiracy to Commit Visa Fraud (18 U.S.C. § 371)
GPS’ Capell has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud and is cooperating with Federal authorities.
The UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. JUSTIN CAPELL cites three other individuals including Global Premier Soccer’s founder and former CEO Joe Bradley and Keith Pabian as co-conspirators.
“We find only minimal satisfaction knowing that justice will be served,” said Griffin. “I am quite certain that this story will continue to unfold, & more inappropriate behavior revealed.”
Global Premier Soccer, while perhaps not setting out to defraud the U.S. Government, is accused of cutting many corners. While there are endless streams of emails and documents supporting various allegations, the bottom line is simple. GPS’ former top leadership has left the multi-billion youth sports industry with an enormous black eye. GPS closed in June, 2020.
There should be an unspoken vow of trust when it comes to caring for children … their hopes, dreams and athletic development.
Parents simply do not want to be deceived — on anything.
So many people say that soccer is a great sport because it teaches youth players good sportsmanship and how to work in a team environment … but what does breaking the rules and cheating the system teach our children? What happens when club leadership put profits over players?
What was GPS really selling? An artificial veneer of a player being part of the FC Bayern Munich world through an affiliate program that had little direct connection to the Bundesliga giant? What was the GPS culture? One of greed and silence? According to our research, top level management were paid enormous sums yet some coaches who came to the USA and worked for GPS on the fraudulent visas were paid extremely little.
The toxic disconnect between expectation and disappointment only turns people away from the game of soccer. But is that illegal? At least defrauding a federal agencies is.
Capell was a long time part of Global Premier Soccer, (according to his LinkedIn, 18 years and 8 months) and faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
Capell is pleading guilty to arranging “to file fraudulent visa petitions on behalf of at least seven professional soccer teams in order to secure visas for GPS’s foreign coaching staff. The petitions falsely stated that the beneficiaries would be working as scouts or assistant coaches for the professional teams when in reality they were employed only as youth soccer coaches by GPS.” (Click here for the full text.)
“According to court documents, from at least 2016 to October 2019, Capell conspired with other GPS executives and employees, and with GPS’s outside counsel, to defraud several federal agencies by submitting fraudulent visa petitions in order to secure work visas for hundreds of GPS employees,” according to the US Attorney’s office, District of Massachusetts.
The court documents cite GPS worked with several professional soccer clubs, including two NWSL teams; the Boston Breakers, and New Jersey’s Sky Blue.
According to The Boston Globe, “Before the Boston Breakers folded in 2018, the organization submitted more than 70 petitions to US immigration authorities stating that foreign visa applicants would scout for the team, according to company records. In fact, the foreigners would coach for Global Premier. Lee Billiard, the former general manager of the Breakers, previously worked for Global Premier.”
“In some instances, it is alleged that conspirators directed visa beneficiaries to mislead U.S. immigration officials – providing them with detailed instructions on how to answer questions during their visa interviews,” states the U.S. Attorneys Office, District of Massachusetts news brief.
“As part of the conspiracy, Capell and others submitted phony employment contracts between professional teams and the purported beneficiaries. It is also alleged that Capell and co-conspirators created fraudulent coaching licenses for the beneficiaries, which were included as part of the visa application packages,” states the DOJ News Brief. “A second facet of the conspiracy involved the filing of fraudulent visa petitions for foreign workers who were scheduled to work for GPS affiliates in one part of the country, but who were sent to work in different parts of the United States.”
Another former GPS employee, Gavin MacPhee, pleaded guilty to destroying records in connection with this investigation earlier this year. More indictments are supposedly coming down soon, and it will be interesting to see who else pleads guilty.
Excerpt from legal document UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. JUSTIN CAPELL, Defendant – Criminal No. 21cr10056 Violation: Count One: Conspiracy to Commit Visa Fraud (18 U.S.C. § 371) : (United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, the state’s top federal law enforcement agency.)
- Defendant JUSTIN CAPELL (“CAPELL”) was a resident of Massachusetts. From in or about 2002 to in or about November 2019, CAPELL worked for Global Premier Soccer (“GPS”). During this time, CAPELL held several positions at GPS including soccer coach, Clinical Director, and Chief Operating Officer – a position he held from 2010 to 2019.
- GPS was a youth soccer organization based in Waltham, Massachusetts with affiliates throughout the United States and abroad. Among other things, GPS offered youth soccer instruction through clinics, town leagues, elite club leagues, tournaments, and international residential academies. Many of GPS’s employees (including its coaching staff) were foreign nationals present in the United States on temporary, non-immigrant visas.
- Co-Conspirator 1 (“CC-1”) was a resident of Massachusetts and served as the Chief Executive Officer of GPS. 21cr10056.
Just to clarify, Keith Caldwell assumed the role of CEO of Global Premier Soccer in January 2020 was the last CEO, and is not the co-conspirator alleged to have conspired to commit visa fraud. Caldwell replaced Joe Bradley as Global Premier’s founding CEO. In addition, Paul Baber was the Chief Operating Officer of GPS when Caldwell took over the CEO role.
GPS was part of the LEGACY Global Sports portfolio. Stephen Griffin was named President and CEO of Legacy in December of 2018. According to court documents, the alleged visa partnership ended in 2018, prior to when Griffin assumed the role of CEO.