No, that headline is not about Frank McCourt. “Fraud” is too strong a word for him. He’s merely greedy and feckless.
No, the real fraud is a man named Josh Macciello. He appeared out of nowhere over the winter and claimed he was (a) a billionaire; and (b) was going to buy the Dodgers at auction. He wowed fans by going on local talk radio and sitting for interviews in which he said he’s sign Prince Fielder and promised a World Series title sooner rather than later. His story was eaten up by many. Check out this video he made. The most over-the-top snippets come from the talk show hosts and media people reacting to him.
Turns out, he is a fraud. A convicted drug dealer with no means who appears to have suckered a pretty big swath of the L.A. media that he was the real deal.
His story is told in L.A. Weekly. And it’s pretty illuminating. Not just for what it says about Macciello, but for what it says about the media covering him and fans who wanted so desperately to believe the hype:
Despite what he’s told reporter after reporter, and despite what those journalists have dutifully repeated, he does not have billions of dollars. He does not have rights to any gold mines. He is, instead, a convicted drug dealer and a huckster who has used his talents to persuade many people — not just journalists — to place their confidence in him. In his wake he has left a string of abandoned projects and broken promises.
I never heard of him before today, but when I read this I still searched the HBT archives to make sure that we didn’t get suckered too. Whew! Probably because most Dodgers business news I pay attention to these days comes from Bill Shaikin at the L.A. Times, and he didn’t get suckered either. I hate to stereotype, but thank goodness someone was skeptical that a dude who looked like this could be a gold mine-owning billionaire.
But some weren’t. Some pretty influential people in L.A. sports media. And, based on Macciello’s Twitter feed today — he’s defending himself by claiming the story was “70-75% inaccurate — some fans out there still want to believe him too.
Crazypants, yes. But then again, if I told you five years ago that someone would bankrupt the Dodgers and drive all the fans away, you would have said that was crazy too.