BOISE, Idaho - Former Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone is accused in a lawsuit of offering a former business partner in eastern Idaho a $25,000 bribe to take the blame for an illegal elk hunting trip.
The suit filed by Sidney Ray Davis of Soda Springs against Malone's Salt Lake City-based property management firm also alleges that Malone's brother-in-law, Ken Kensey, "threatened physical violence" if Davis didn't make the investigation "go away."
According to the complaint, Kensey made the threats over lunch in Logan, Utah in 1998. The suit alleges that Malone again offered the $25,000 payment during a private meeting at an event for Navajo Santa, a charity for American Indians.
Malone's lawyer, Randall Call of Salt Lake City, said the two-time NBA most valuable player "adamantly denies" any bribery or intimidation. He said the lawsuit is frivolous and targets Malone because of his wealth and fame.
"We've dealt with this kind of extortion before," Call said. "It's a little like terrorism, you can't buckle into it at any time or else it will prevail."
According to Davis's complaint, Malone said he did not want bad publicity over any potential hunting violations to hamper contract negotiations with the Jazz during the 1998 season. The following year, Malone signed a four-year $66.5 million deal.
On Aug. 21, Malone's attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case in Idaho's 6th District court. A ruling is expected later this month.
Call said Malone and Davis met at a hunting exposition and became friends. Malone joined Davis, at one-time a licensed outfitter in Idaho's Caribou County, for winter elk hunting trips.
On at least one outing in the fall of 1998, Davis did not have a state issued elk tag for Malone. On that trip, Malone fired "into the snow" at a bull elk, but never hit the animal, Call said.
Enforcement officers from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and federal officials interviewed Malone, who said he thought Davis had proper outfitter permits.
Malone was never charged, but Davis later pleaded guilty to two federal hunting violations stemming from incidents in 1993 and 1994.
A year earlier, Malone had bought the commercial elk hunting business and pledged money to buy snowmobiles and make renovations on Davis's Trail Creek Lodge, a sportsman cabin on the same property, said Jon Bial, Davis' attorney in Hillsboro, Ore.
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"I know at one point Karl thought that Sid and his mother treated him like family," Bial said. "We're at loss why he wouldn't pay his obligations."
Call said Malone will be more careful about his future business partnerships.
"He's eclectic in that at one time ran a trucking company. Now he runs a logging business. He loves the outdoors and at one point he thought he'd want to operate a hunting business," Call said. "It's obviously something he regrets."
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