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NFL Investigations Call for Caution, Garber Tells AP

October 2, 2014

Scrutiny surrounding how the National Football League’s security office handled the existence of a security camera recording of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice punching his fiancée in the elevator of a New Jersey casino has led to questions about the league’s role in investigating claims of potential player criminal misconduct.

The NFL has brought in former FBI director Robert Mueller to conduct an investigation into the incident as well as its procedures for handling such claims.

Ross H. Garber, a partner and Co-Chair of Shipman & Goodwin’s Government Investigations and White Collar Criminal Defense practice, spoke to the Associated Press (AP) about the need for caution in corporate investigations that may run parallel to criminal investigations:

[Garber] said there is no law preventing the NFL from mounting its own investigation into worker’s misdeeds while a separate criminal investigation is underway. Private companies do it all the time.

But it must be done carefully, he said.

“One of the things you always want to avoid is any allegation of witness tampering. If there is an ongoing investigation, and there are individuals who know about the facts ... investigators can talk to those people, but have to be very careful about how they do it,” he said.

Corporate security personnel, he said, also have to make sure they aren’t violating criminal laws to gather information, like accessing private computers without permission or paying for information or evidence.

“You also have to make sure that you are not doing things that are distasteful, even if they are legal,” he said.

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