Commanders reach settlement with Maryland AG over allegations of withholding ticket deposits

The Maryland Attorney General's office has reached a settlement with the Washington Commanders after the team was accused of failing to return security deposits to ticket holders, it announced Friday.

The settlement requires that the Commanders refund all remaining security deposits and pay a $250,000 fine.

Attorney General Brian Frosh alleges the team was meant to return security deposits collected from season and luxury suite ticket holders but failed to do so within the required 30 days. Instead, the team allegedly returned deposits only to ticket holders who made a written request, which is a violation the Consumer Protection Act.

"For many years, the Commanders kept money that was not theirs. It belongs to their customers," Attorney General Frosh said. "Today's settlement will require the team to return the monies owed to consumers. The Commanders will pay a penalty, and they will be enjoined from engaging in similar practices in the future."

The settlement does not clear the Commanders of separate litigation stemming from the allegations.

D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced on Thursday that his office is also suing the Commanders for the alleged deposits scheme, in addition to a separate suit that was announced a week prior on Nov. 10.

Making sense of the Commanders' suits

In 2020, over 40 women, including former employees and cheerleaders, came forward to accuse owner Dan Snyder and Commanders executives of sexual misconduct. Snyder himself initially hired an outside attorney to investigate, but that was soon taken over by Goodell and the NFL. The investigation determined that the Commanders fostered a hostile work environment for years, one that especially affected women and commonly included bullying, intimidation and sexual harassment up through the top ranks of the organization. However, no written report was ever released.

Litigation about the alleged deposit scheme came as Congress investigated the Commanders for the workplace misconduct. Jason Friedman, the Commanders' former longtime VP of sales and customer service testified in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform about the scheme in March, and turned over numerous spreadsheets and other documents. The committee wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission just one month later, accusing them of hiding revenue from the NFL for over a decade through withholding security deposits. The attorneys general of Maryland, D.C. and Virginia launched parallel investigations.

That investigation into the Commanders' workplace misconduct is what triggered the D.C. attorney general's Nov. 10 suit, which alleges that the Commanders, Snyder, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL "colluded to deceive fans" by allegedly covering up all the workplace and sexual misconduct allegations against the team.

LANDOVER, MD - FEBRUARY 2:  Co-owner Dan Snyder gives remarks as the Washington Football Team announces their new team name the Commanders at a morning event  at FedEx Field on February 2, 2022 in Landover, MD . (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Dan Snyder is co-owner of the Washington Commanders. (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images) (The Washington Post via Getty Images)