IBF Founder Acquitted of Bribery

ByABC News
August 17, 2000, 2:43 PM

N E W A R K, N.J., Aug. 17 -- The man who founded the IBF as analternative to boxing sanctioning bodies he considered corrupt wasacquitted today on charges he took bribes from promoters andmanagers to give good rankings to their boxers.

A federal jury deliberated 15 days before finding Robert W. Leeinnocent on all but six of the 33 felony charges he faced,including racketeering.

Robert Lee Jr., who served as an aide to his father, wasacquitted on all nine charges against him.

The elder Lee could face some prison time on the sixconvictions, which included tax evasion, money laundering andinterstate travel in aid of racketeering.

Neither testified.

Promoters Said Payoffs Were Routine

The verdict was a major defeat for the Newark federalprosecutors and FBI agents whose four-year investigation exposedunsavory practices long rumored to infect the sport.

Still pending is a parallel lawsuit brought by federalprosecutors.

The four-month trial featured damaging testimony from some ofthe biggest promoters in the sport, including Bob Arum and CedricKushner, who contended that routine payoffs were the price of doingbusiness with the East Orange-based IBF.

Boxings most powerful promoter, Don King, did not appear, butprosecutors called him an unindicted coconspirator, maintaining hewas the prime beneficiary of Lees manipulations.

Lees future in the sport is uncertain. The trial judge last yarstripped him of authority in IBF, which later named a new presidentand continues operating under the scrutiny of a court-appointedmonitor.

Jurors Heard 80 Audiotapes

Prosecutors accused Lee and other IBF officials of taking$338,000 from promoters and managers virtually since the IBFsinception in 1983 in exchange for favors and rigged rankings.

As one of the boxing worlds three major sanctioning groups, itsrankings and decisions play a large role in the purses earned byboxers, of which managers and promoters get a cut.