Forget Hawks, Thrashers — J.B. Smith has other issues (UPDATED)

Ed Peskowitz, Michael Gearon and Bruce Levenson are among the Atlanta Spirit owners looking to sell the Hawks, Thrashers and Philips Arena' operating rights.

Ed Peskowitz, Michael Gearon and Bruce Levenson are among the Atlanta Spirit owners looking to sell Hawks and Thrashers.

(UPDATED BELOW: 4:15 p.m.)

It remains to be seen if the Thrashers are sold and moved to Winnipeg, or if the Hawks and Philips Arena operating rights are sold to new ownership. But that’s the way to bet.

Also, don’t bet on J.B. Smith.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on Smith because appearances are that he’s just one more name in a sea of pretenders who claim to be interested in one or all of the Atlanta Spirit properties. But he and others have never taken the necessary steps to prove their financial worth (assuming they have sufficient worth).

Smith has been pimped by some as this shadowy, mysterious figure who was going to swoop in and buy the teams and arena and save the day. One of his mouthpieces is a guy named Jay Clemons, who has written about fantasy football for SI.com. Clemons, however, now doesn’t hide the fact that he is Smith’s spokesperson. He has informed all on Twitter that all media inquiries for Smith can go through him.

So much for objectivity. At least now, he’s not pretending to not have an agenda.

(UPDATE: Clemons has changed the name of his Twitter account and no longer works for SI.com.)

Anyway, back to Smith. The Journal-Constitution has been aware of him and other potential bidders for some time, but we like to practice this thing called responsible journalism. I know, go figure. Believe it or not, a line does exist between news and Twitter.

But now that Smith’s name is out — thanks to my pal and former AJC staffer Craig Custance of The Sporting News, who did some terrific reporting and was able to reach Smith — I thought this was worth mentioning.

Two companies, iSekurity and Equity 11, have put out a news release, disassociating themselves with Smith. In fact, the headline on website reads, “JB Smith Not Associated With Equity 11 and iSekurity.”

An Equity 11 website still lists Smith as managing partner, but the news release was issued by chief operating officer Matt Bitonti and quotes chairman Jim Juliano. According to the release, the Oakland County (Mich.) Circuit Court has a $1.9 million judgement against Smith.

Here’s the release:

WARREN, MI–(Marketwire – May 18, 2011) – Equity 11, Ltd. and iSekurity, an identity theft security and restoration firm comprised of former United States Federal Agents, announced today that media reports about JB Smith’s association with Equity 11 and iSekurity are untrue.

“The shareholders of Equity 11 and iSekurity removed JB Smith from all positions he held with our companies in June 2010,” said Jim Juliano, Equity 11’s and iSekurity’s Chairman. “In addition, the Oakland County Circuit Court entered a $1.9 million judgment against JB Smith, banned him from all positions with Equity 11 and iSekurity and ordered him to relinquish any ownership in these companies. JB Smith has not made any payments on this judgment. Several other creditors are also seeking payment from JB Smith.” The Court took this action in Oakland County Circuit Court Case No. 10-1100121-CB.

UPDATE: For those inquiring about Smith’s name still being on the Equity 11 website, I just spoke to Bitonti. His comments: “Equity 11 is not operating any longer. We’re in the process of getting the website taken down.”

Bitonti acknowledged that Smith once ran Equity 11, which was over iSekurity, but that hasn’t been the case since June of 2010. “This happened  a long time,” Bitonti said, adding that the news release was issued Wednesday only because Smith’s name came up as being connected with the company.

He declined to answer any other questions about Smith or his interest in the teams.

One postscript. Clemons claims on his Twitter feed that Smith plans to attend a Thrashers’ select-a-seat day Saturday at Philips Arena, assuming such an event still takes place. Don’t hold your breath.

By Jeff Schultz

– Earlier: Hawks’ decision to bring back Rick Sund was expected

– Earlier: Hawks save Braves, who are in a position to make a move

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend meat Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

143 comments Add your comment

Alan R.

May 18th, 2011
2:44 pm

He’s filed a motion to dismiss.

Runner-

May 18th, 2011
2:44 pm

FIRST!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ThrashFan

May 18th, 2011
2:50 pm

Thankfully, there have still been no updates here: http://www.didthethrashersmovetowinnipegyet.com/

SportsFan

May 18th, 2011
2:52 pm

LOL…Alan…really…does that matter? He has no money! Plus he isn’t exactly legit for ownership now is he. If you think the NHL BoG want a guy like this in their league, I have some swampland to see you.

Sean

May 18th, 2011
2:53 pm

I guess we know why #TheBalkan couldn’t be revealed until it was too late — he and John Kincade have been going in on lottery tickets for the last 5 months, hoping that one would hit and they could save the franchise. Nice reporting, Kincade.

Rick Sund

May 18th, 2011
2:54 pm

I like this JB Smith already. He has so much UPSIDE!

tonyb

May 18th, 2011
2:55 pm

It seem this franchise and its fan base just can’t catch a break.

rn

May 18th, 2011
2:56 pm

First.. the statement that the AJC “likes to practice this thing called responsible journalism” was hysterical.. oh, wait, you weren’t joking?
The AJC has done everything in their power to first ignore the Thrashers since the team has been in town other then taking the opportunity to bash the fans and players. Your own reporter (Chris V.) has been appearing on Radio in Winnipeg giving them every reason to think that the Thrashers have no support here in Atlanta. Add to that the doom and gloom reporting that the team is leaving while slamming anyone who has shown interest in keeping the team in town.
It’s sad that the local ‘newspaper’ can only report what they see on Twitter and on blogs and can’t do any real RESPONSIBLE reporting about this story.

Alan R.

May 18th, 2011
2:57 pm

SportsFan – Pardon? I’m stating a fact, for full disclosure. Do try to keep up.

SportsFan

May 18th, 2011
2:59 pm

RN…Viv has never been asked to appear on local radio, get your facts straight. He has been asked to go on Winnipeg radio because they care about the NHL and what is happening. Obviously Atlanta does not.

Joe Friday

May 18th, 2011
2:59 pm

This Balkan story was nonsense from the get go, look at that web site for Equity 11. com, amateur hour at best, it still lists Smith on there and still has a broken link to the Steeler story that discredited him as well. It looks like a site put together in 20 minutes by Mrs. Baker’s 4th grade technology class.

We need a new owner, but please don’t buy into fairy tales dreamed up soap opera watching hotheads with ) credibility.

Jim

May 18th, 2011
3:00 pm

True North Blinks!

Multiple sources are reporting that the Winnipeg group wanting to buy a NHL team now is asking for government help in financing the deal.

Seems like the financial pockets are not as deep as has previously been reported. At least two sources independent of each other have reported to me that the chance of government assistance is next to zero.

SportsFan

May 18th, 2011
3:01 pm

Go for it Alan. Doesn’t change the fact he can’t afford what the ASG are selling.

SportsFan

May 18th, 2011
3:02 pm

Jim – they are not assisting in the purchase of the team or any possible future losses. It is just for upgrades to facilities or streets in the area of the arena downtown.

Madeleine

May 18th, 2011
3:04 pm

J.B. Smith is just an attention seeker. The NHL & the ASG don’t even acknowledge this guys exists which speaks volumes.

Joe Friday

May 18th, 2011
3:05 pm

yep, the Winnipeg assistance request is BAD news for us, they’re laying the groundwork in anticipation of the club being there

PMC

May 18th, 2011
3:07 pm

In this list of names (pretenders) Jeff, have you also included the members of the ASG?

[...] Journal Constitution:  Forget Hawks, Thrashers  - J.B. Smith has other issues. Schultz doesn’t pull any [...]

Mark C.

May 18th, 2011
3:10 pm

I spoke with Matt Bitonti, COO for Isekurity, who released the statement this afternoon, and confirmed the press release as valid. He went on to say there are old websites, that still list Smith, and wanted to set the record straight.
I don’t think he was trying to exhile Smith or anything like that. Probably just didn’t want to deal with all the calls and inquiries.

PMC

May 18th, 2011
3:10 pm

I’m still pulling for Lil John….. WHAT?

The Crunkest Hockey team in America.

JimisDim

May 18th, 2011
3:12 pm

Hey Jim, stop spreading lies. You obviously have no “sources” as you’re making sh*t up.

They’re not asking for assistance to buy the team or the arena (It’s paid off already). They’re asking for a loan to get the province involved because they plan on developing around the arena (street work, skywalks, 5 star hotel, bars, restaurants, possible casino, etc…). This is called diversifying to off side any “possible” future losses is any.

Winnipeg will have the richest owner in North American Sports so to say “Seems like the financial pockets are not as deep as has previously been reported” is just plain ignorant.

Urinal-Constipation

May 18th, 2011
3:12 pm

This is the most laughable claim an AJC staffer has ever made:

“The Journal-Constitution has been aware of him and other potential bidders for some time, but we like to practice this thing called responsible journalism.”

thom glavine yorke

May 18th, 2011
3:18 pm

wow..i was thinking the same thing, it’s almost hilarious that the AJC is covering this story since it’s not college football or chippers knee. c-viv wants to be mayor of winnipeg and i’m sure he’ll get his wish. also..why don’t you all call it like it is, john kincade pissed off the AJC, this is your return fire because j.b smith was his guy. be honest, responsible journalist.

SportsFan

May 18th, 2011
3:21 pm

So reporting “The Balkan” as a saviour for 3 months when he is really not is a good thing to do? Please, doing that just gets people’s hopes up until the day they get majorly dissapointed in the result (JB Smith).

Athrasherfan13

May 18th, 2011
3:22 pm

Funny…..John Kincade has been unusually quiet the past few days……..especially today. Tweeters remorse perhaps?

I’m not sure what Mr. Kincade was thinking through all of this. I would have hoped that he did his own due diligence before associating himself with J.B. Smith, aka @TheBalkan, and perpetuated this fraud against the Thrashers fans. He has just tanked any credibility he may have had in ATL sports with his irresponsible stunt.

I for one, will never listen to this moron on the radio again. I would go so far as to say I would listen to the Laurentino Show during drive-time if it would get Kincaid out of town. If I were Dickey Broadcasting, I’d send him out on the same boat that sailed him out of Philly. He is better suited to reporting on the daily soaps for some 3rd-rate radio station with no reach in major markets.

And while Kincaid may have been perpetuating false hopes to the Blueland Fans, lets say that the AJC has not been much help either through all of this. Yes, the ASG are a bunch of dysfunctional morons and don’t have a clue about running a successful sports franchise (i.e. spending $100 million on a player who chokes in the playoffs, both before the $100 mil and after). Frankly, I am surprised that they did not further their tree-hugging LEEDS efforts by having the players from both sports teams in the Arena durnig the intermission or half-time, with plastic bags collecting paper and plastic. If they put half as much time, money, caring and effort into the operation of the franchises as they did into LEEDS, we would have been better off. But I digress……in addition to the Kincade damage, the constant bashing and trashing by the AJC and other media outlets all but crushed the chances of getting a solvent, credible investor or investors to take over either or both teams.

Thanks for nothing.

Boom Dizzle

May 18th, 2011
3:28 pm

@Urinal Constipation – I found that part hilarious as well. Well all know that the AJC and responsible journalism don’t go together…..

This is the most laughable claim an AJC staffer has ever made:

“The Journal-Constitution has been aware of him and other potential bidders for some time, but we like to practice this thing called responsible journalism.”

SportsFan

May 18th, 2011
3:30 pm

Great post Athrasherfan…well said

canofpeas

May 18th, 2011
3:31 pm

I thought it couldn’t get any more pathetic than the Rollins “bid” but it looks like JB Smith has topped it.

Jeff Schultz

May 18th, 2011
3:32 pm

RN — “The AJC has done everything in their power to first ignore the Thrashers since the team has been in town . . .” You need to go back to find newspapers from when franchise was awarded and early seasons of coverage because you just lost all credibility with that statement,.

Jeff Schultz

May 18th, 2011
3:36 pm

JimIsDim — That’s my understanding. Winnipeg people are asking for some sort of promise of development in the area of the arena. It’s not like a government bailout.

Jeff Schultz

May 18th, 2011
3:36 pm

Mark C .. “I spoke with Matt Bitonti, COO for Isekurity, who released the statement this afternoon, and confirmed the press release as valid. He went on to say there are old websites, that still list Smith, and wanted to set the record straight.
I don’t think he was trying to exhile Smith or anything like that. Probably just didn’t want to deal with all the calls and inquiries.”

Thanks.

rich jewell

May 18th, 2011
3:37 pm

Ask me about the ajc and responsible journalism

Jeff Schultz

May 18th, 2011
3:37 pm

PMC — Don’t hold your breath on L’il John either.

Jeff Schultz

May 18th, 2011
3:39 pm

Urnial Constipation — Then why are you reading? Go away. Love ya, J.

Rumun Ndur

May 18th, 2011
3:39 pm

remember me Schultz? ..what about Per Svardvadet? okay that was easy.. did you know we had Mark Tinordi on paper that first magical season, even Bill Huard, he punched people ! I think we settled for Hnat Domichelli..

see.. I am an original fan. Petr Buzek ! Gosh..Ed Ward.. Kelly Buchbergar is still the only real capatin we’ve ever had ! sigh.

Jeff Odgers

May 18th, 2011
3:42 pm

I miss Turner South ! we had a pre-game show ! they actually talked about the lineups ! biggest mistake they ever made was letting erin andrews leave!!

William Satterwhite

May 18th, 2011
3:48 pm

Jeff, I have the utmost respect for you and some of your colleagues so please don’t take offense to any of the following. I fully understand and respect that the AJC has a commitment to “responsible journalism” but in this case, wouldn’t the responsible thing for you and your colleagues to do as journalist be to report the story no matter what? The story here isn’t that a prospective buyer with an absolutely impeccable resume wants to buy the three ASG holdings, the story is that a prospective buyer (regardless of his resume and regardless of his backstory) wants to buy the ASG holdings. Your job as a journalist is to report the story and present the facts so that we the readers can be as well informed as we can be and make up our own minds. If anything, if Mr. Smith is indeed as shady and as big a joke as you claim, you and your colleagues have done the Atlanta community a grave disservice by not reporting on his story at all despite the fact that his existence has long been speculated.

Again, I have the utmost respect for you and some of your colleagues but in regards to this story (and the entire ASG yard sale saga for that matter), I can’t help but think that the AJC has dropped the ball to a significant degree in it’s reporting. If the Thrashers beat writer can go on Canadian radio and give details about specific offers made to purchase the Thrashers, why can’t he report that to his actual readers in Atlanta? If a notable Atlanta Thrashers employee goes on Canadian radio and proclaims that ASG’s stated losses for the team are manufactured to a certain degree and gets on another Canadian radio station and proclaims that ASG basically washed their hands of the Thrashers after Atlanta hosted the All-Star game, is anyone in Atlanta bothering to investigate and report on a story there? When a former Atlanta Flame who is worked with Tom Glavine’s prospective ownership group gets on (again, Canadian radio) and proclaims that ASG is purposely making a deal to purchase the Thrashers extremely difficult, is anyone in Atlanta bothering to report on a story there? Again, just report to us the story, whatever it may be, and present the facts therein and let us the readers decide if it’s worth our time.

bali

May 18th, 2011
3:55 pm

hey, this guy smith sounds like a perfect fit for the hawks and thrashers

Responsible Journalist

May 18th, 2011
3:57 pm

Who would win in a hockey fight between Chris “volcano punch” Vivlamore Vs. John “killer” Kincade ? Jeff “the hammer” Schultz can be a linesman. :)

Smoothie

May 18th, 2011
4:00 pm

Where in the hell is Erin Brockovich when you need someone to ask all the hard questions??

Does anyone want to hear JB Smith’s side of the story? It’s probably BS but shouldn’t you at least attempt to contact him as opposed to write him off completely? If nothing else, aren’t you at least a little curious as to what he and/or his camp might say?

Smoothie

May 18th, 2011
4:07 pm

Well said Mr. Satterwhite! Astute as always. #goodjournalism

SportsFan

May 18th, 2011
4:07 pm

Smoothie – it would be wasting everyone’s time, especially ASG and Atlanta. They knew about him 3 months ago and have not proceeded.

Steve Belkin

May 18th, 2011
4:12 pm

Miss me yet?

Smoothie

May 18th, 2011
4:13 pm

SportsFan – there could be a reason the Motion to Dismiss was filed the same day as the announcement from the JB Smith camp. While the “evidence” doesn’t look good for the Smith camp, the AJC isn’t really doing anything to back up their “source” or cause to dismiss him without further inquiry and/or a cross-check of stories from Mr. Smith himself. Isn’t it their job to present both sides even if the outcome seems silly? If they’ve read the court documents and the evidence has led them to a certain conclusion, why not tell us that in a matter of words? Why all this hearsay kind of reporting?

Smoothie

May 18th, 2011
4:35 pm

Thanks Jeff for taking the time to call him and get a statement. Any designs on calling JBS or Jay Clemons for the other side?

EA

May 18th, 2011
4:46 pm

Kincade, tweets, there are two sides to the story. Who knows?
Jeff, you all may have “accurate” reporting, but the coverage of the Thrashers and the NHL has been very limited. What stands out to me most was there was virtually NO coverage of the All Star game when it was here. I remember that being pointed out to you and others at the time. That was the high point of the NHL in Atlanta other than our one playoff appearance. There are hockey writers who still refer to the amount of fans, the quality of the fans and the great job Atlanta did hosting the event. Yes, it was 3 years ago, but that was when it seems the city checked out of hockey in Atlanta. If I did not know anything about hockey, I certainly would not have become a fan reading the AJC. I don’t think I stand alone feeling that the coverage of the sport has been limited and negative. Just my opinion.

rn

May 18th, 2011
4:49 pm

Jeff- You need to go back to find newspapers from when franchise was awarded and early seasons of coverage because you just lost all credibility with that statement

Single column stories on page 6 of the sports section is not exactly covering Hockey.
I remember the days when the AJC didn’t even bother sending a reporter to the games and instead picked up photos from the wire.

And now the AJC is ‘getting with the times’ and using Tweets and blogs as sources for their story.

What happened to responsible reporting of FACTS and not throwing bombs?

Alethia

May 18th, 2011
4:50 pm

JB Smith? Really? This is the same guy that went on CNBC to say he was buying part of the Steelers right after the Superbowl right? They really needed the money right after the Superbowl, you know, the owners (Rooney) aren’t that wealthy, right, so JB Smith graciously offered to buy the team to help them out.
The video is here for your review.
http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=1024205667
Let me speak clearly, JB is a master con artist who pretends to be half mobster and half VC. Do some searching on his name an iSekurity and you will have no difficulty identifying the pattern.

It’s amazing how his name still manages to elicit a response. Mostly due to the fact that he’s managed to screw so many people that there is a whole legion out there ready to let the world out know when resurfaces. The $1.9m law suit is only one of his problems.
For those of you in the know: http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/isekurity-identity-protection-c331760.html

Alethia

joey1

May 18th, 2011
4:51 pm

hawk owner are a joke.. they just have money and are too cheap to go into luxury tax to actually make a team that can compete for championships… the hawks have been a top 8 the last 3 years we need a center and to trade marvin williams then this team will succeed..

imagine trading marvin williams and horford for andrew bogut, then sign free agent al thorton to small forward..

starting lineup teague,joe johnson, al thorton, josh smith, andrew bogut