TAKING A STAND- Ex-Marine lawyer 'not afraid' of Daniel Kinahan ahead of alleged racketeering case
"This is a man (Daniel Kinahan) who decided to come here to the US and to break our laws and to steal. He puts himself out there as a businessman"
Daniel Kinahan is being pursued in the U.S. courts
December 27, 2020 11:50 AM
Organized crime boss Daniel Kinahan has been warned 'he will have to take the stand' in an alleged racketeering case lodged against him and boxing company MTK in California.
Lead case lawyer Eric Montalvo alleges Kinahan and MTK ignored state and federal laws to 'steal' boxer Joseph 'JoJo' Diaz from his contracted management company, Heredia Boxing Management Inc.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday World, the former marine-turned-lawyer also alleges MTK convinced Diaz to sign by making a $100,000 'blood-money' payment - money Mr. Montalvo claims in legal papers that was earned from Kinahan's involvement in organized crime.
The civil case naming Kinahan and MTK was lodged by Heredia and Mr. Montalvo two months after fighter Diaz lodged his own lawsuit accusing Rafael Heredia of fraud.
Mr. Montalvo, who served 21 years in the United States Marine Corps incorporating combat tours during Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployments to Afghanistan, insists Daniel Kinahan's high- profile gangland activities won't intimidate the legal team working the case against him.
"I'm a retired marine, I've been in combat and I've been shot at," Mr. Montalvo told The Sunday World.
"And God hasn't seen fit to call me home yet. This is a man (Daniel Kinahan) who decided to come here to the US and to break our laws and to steal. He puts himself out there as a businessman.
"Well, if he is a businessman, he will deal with this legal case as a businessman. If not, well, I'm not going to be afraid to be aggressive in stating the facts of our case to the court. "
"He has brought himself to this position. His actions gave rise to this lawsuit. This is not personal, it's business."
Court papers filed by Mr. Montalvo allege MTK lured Mr. JoJo Diaz away from his contract with Heredia Boxing Management (HBM) by offering him a $100,000 advance on his next prize purse which "essentially caused Mr. Diaz to mortgage his future away".
The papers also allege MTK funded a campaign against HBM in an effort to get it to release Mr. Diaz as a client.
This included the sending of "threatening" letters and social media posts smearing Heredia.
The suit further alleges Kinahan, who is regarded by Gardaí as the head of the Kinahan organized crime group, still controls MTK, and uses fights and its fighters to launder money from his international drugs trafficking operations.
Furthermore, it accuses MTK and Kinahan of breaching the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (Rico) Act by using money derived from organized crime activity.
The Rico Act was introduced by the US government to tackle organized crime, but it can also be used in civil suits.
MTK, which was founded by Kinahan and describes itself as the 'biggest force in the business of boxing', is attempting to break into the US market, and has recently signed eight US professional boxers as clients.
In his interview with the Sunday World, Mr. Montalvo estimates the damage caused by MTK in interfering with Heredia's relationship with Diaz at several million dollars.
But he said the suit will also seek further sums for related damage caused to the day-to-day operations of Heredia, to the company's ability to attract and train other boxers and treble damages to punish MTK and Kinahan for 'breaking the law.'
"There is absolute fear of Daniel Kinahan and MTK in the world of boxing," he told us.
"He has got money, influence and power and he is someone who should be taken very seriously.
"But the moral compass of the boxing community is adrift; people are taking his money and it is blood-money earned from organized crime.
"In the US and in California we have gone a long way to normalize boxing. Boxers should not be feasted upon by the likes of MTK - leveraging their futures for money.
"The boxing community should be concerned if a criminal enterprise like this is allowed to come in because it will become a monopoly using money that is not hard earned but earned from criminal enterprise," he said.
Asked whether he will subpoena Kinahan to take the stand, Mr. Montalvo responded: "I will call Daniel Kinahan … absolutely I will.
"People can always choose not to show up but there are legal consequences to that.
"We know he is resident in Dubai and may have concerns relating to travel because of his criminality. But as long as he is on video, we will gladly take that testimony. MTK is physically present in the US.
"At this time, we have had no response from MTK, but we have had response from the legal company they used.
Asked how he intends to prove that the alleged payment of $100,000 to Diaz originated from Kinahan and his drug operations, Mr. Montalvo said evidence will be sought in the discovery phase of the case.
"MTK has over 100 boxers in its stable. Where is the money coming from?
"Their founder is Daniel Kinahan, a 43-year-old allegedly worth over a billion dollars, which law enforcement agencies say is the proceeds of organized crime.
"Heredia has three boxers in its stable. It invested years in Diaz.
Asked for a timeline of when the case can be expected to come before a jury, Mr. Montalvo said: "Federal cases usually move along in six to 12 months depending on corona(virus).
The allegations against Kinahan and MTK are contained in a 32-page filing submitted to the United States District Court in California in support of a civil suit against the Irish organized crime boss and the company he founded in 2012.
Kinahan and MTK claimed to have cut ties in 2017 following the Regency Hotel shooting in which Kinahan associate David Byrne was murdered.
But these claims were upended in June of this year when it emerged Kinahan was acting as an adviser for Tyson Fury, MTK's biggest client.
Fury was subsequently and reluctantly forced to cut ties with Kinahan in the face of mounting public criticism.
Two years ago, the High Court named Kinahan as a senior figure in organized crime and found the criminal gang he "controlled and managed" was involved in drugs trafficking and firearms offences on an international scale.
In recent years, MTK has repeatedly claimed Kinahan has stepped away from the company. MTK, Kinahan and the other defendants have not yet indicated their defense to the claims.
Earlier this year, a witness statement heard at the High Court in London from MTK's then CEO Sandra McClumpha who revealed the company's ties to Kinahan were severed when she took charge three years ago.
Ms. McClumpha won a court order against a Twitter user, known only as 'whistleblower', who posted tweets about MTK and Kinahan.
She said: "A great number of the tweets published by the defendant are directed at Mr. Kinahan directly, and to MTK by alleged association.
"Mr. Kinahan has no interest in (or association with) MTK whatsoever.
"I deny unequivocally MTK's association with any criminal enterprise. As CEO of MTK, I have never had to assist the police with any criminal enquiries, whether about an association with Mr. Kinahan or otherwise.
"The business of MTK is commercial and entirely legitimate in every way possible."
Exclusive by Patrick O'Connell