In Latest Plot Twist, Quinton Dunbar's Attorneys Withdraw From Armed Robbery Case
When the Seahawks acquired Quinton Dunbar from the Redskins back in March for a fifth-round pick, they believed they had stolen a shutdown cornerback to team up with Shaquill Griffin in their secondary.
But with training camp set to start in less than three weeks, new evidence against Dunbar in his ongoing armed robbery case as well as an abrupt change in representation could mean his time in Seattle will come to close before it begins.
Last Friday, an explosive report from Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News uncovering a new search warrant implicated Dunbar and Giants cornerback Deandre Baker of bribery and covering up their alleged crime. The warrant cites multiple pieces of tangible evidence, including video footage and direct messages showing Dominic Johnson oversaw payments from the two defenders to four other witness at attorney Michael Grieco's office on May 15.
That was just two days after the Miramar Police Department issued warrants for the arrest of Dunbar and Baker, who allegedly robbed party guests at gunpoint the night before and bolted the scene.
After the report dropped, Grieco released a statement claiming the victims were trying to extort the two NFL players and noted Dunbar passed a polygraph test to confirm he didn't participate or witness a robbery on May 12.
"Law enforcement, both local and federal, was advised from day one and beyond that the alleged 'victims’ in this case were actively extorting Baker and Dunbar,” Grieco said. “These men fabricated a robbery story after waiting an hour to call police and then immediately began contacting the players demanding money."
“My office obtained accurate and truthful affidavits consistent with the independent witness and my client’s account. These ‘victims’ are seasoned career criminals who have been arrested and/or convicted of crimes ranging from conspiracy to commit murder, to human trafficking, to filing a false police report."
But less than 72 hours later, per court documents, Grieco and attorney Michael Weinstein have withdrawn as counsel for Dunbar and have been replaced by Andrew Rier and Jonathan Jordan as the new counsel of record. In a statement to the Seattle Times, Grieco said, "We agreed that new counsel would allow for continued advocacy of Mr. Dunbar's innocence without any collateral distractions.''
While plenty of details remain unknown, this latest development gives last week's bombshell from Leonard teeth, as the decision to change counsel so abruptly suggests foul play between Grieco, Baker, Dunbar, and Johnson may very well have occurred back in May as indicated by the report.
Recently, all four witnesses have signed written statements that they were paid off by Dunbar and Baker to recant prior statements linking them to the crime in signed affidavits. Combined, the four men said they received $55,000 dollars, with one victim claiming to be paid $30,000 while the other three received smaller payouts as a bribe.
Detective Mark Moretti of the Miramar Police Department also told Leonard that direct messages between Johnson and Baker indicate the two men worked together to coordinate the payoff, with Baker asking Johnson to meet him at Grieco's office.
Even more damning, obtained CCTV video evidence shows Grieco, Johnson, and the four witnesses appearing to conduct the bribe at the attorney's office. Elevator footage later shows Johnson receiving a "black bag" containing a large quantity of cash and less than two hours later, Grieco contacted Moretti claiming to have a change of testimony from the witnesses.
Once the statements were signed by the witnesses, Johnson called Dunbar while in Grieco's office. He also maintained communication with Baker, though it's unclear if he met up with him in person.
According to the warrant, Johnson mucked up the investigation by confiscating a cell phone that belonged to one of the suspects.
“Johnson’s actions contaminated the integrity of the investigation as he made the victims recant their statements, only after given them cash,” the warrant reads. “Communication was established between all three parties, however the contents of that communication(s) could not be identified. Those messages could still be in possession of Apple Inc. This warrant will assist us in identifying communication methods used by involved parties and assist in obtaining additional information to further a criminal investigation.”
Last week, Dunbar hired Weinstein as a second defense attorney and filed a motion to be allowed to travel to Seattle for training camp. With this new evidence coming to light and both of his attorneys now withdrawing from the case, there's a possibility that won't be allowed.
Meanwhile, the NFL currently is investigating the incident independently and has the ability to hand out their own punishments separate from the ongoing legal proceedings. This could mean Dunbar and Baker face suspensions or will be placed on the commissioner's exempt list.
Until that happens, it's a possibility the Seahawks could decide to release Dunbar, as Leonard reported Baker's time with the Giants could be coming to a close soon. The organization has stood by him over the past two months, even allowing him to participate in virtual team meetings, but they may have no other choice but to wash their hands of him now after inexplicably trying to cover up a crime.
If such a move does happen, Seattle will enter the new season with a secondary that looks near-identical to last year's squad. Tre Flowers will resume his starting role at right cornerback across from Griffin and depth behind them will take a significant hit at the expense of giving up a day three draft choice.
Since the case hasn't reached trial yet, however, the Seahawks could give Dunbar the benefit of the doubt with Grieco withdrawing from the case, casting doubt about his credibility.
Still, while there's a chance Dunbar wasn't involved in the actual crime or the cover up, but details from last week's report made such a scenario seem unlikely. Given the tangible evidence emerging against him, his chances of contributing for the team in 2020 look bleak and if he serves time, it's not out of the question his career could be finished.