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"I told him no," Arum said later. "I thought the whole thing was insane. But I did say, reluctantly, that I would take the cash and put it on the books as a transaction deal, and then send a check for $40,000 to LSI in New Orleans. And that's what we did." The money was part of the $50,000 owed to LSI for the program rights.
"I don't know Harvey," Lewis said. "I just heard he owns some small grocery stores in Brooklyn or Queens. I suppose the program people paid the other $10,000 at a later date."
If the $10,000 was paid, Dimaggio and Ciaccio say they never saw it. "We were told by Copelin that we had sold the program rights for $40,000," Dimaggio said.
The program was one thing, tickets were another. Last week FBI agents began checking a report that at least 5,000 of the $100 tickets had been duplicated. One set was sold for $50,000; some phonies were discovered among the unsold tickets. It was also reported that the government agents had picked up a Teamster official who had 3,000 bogus tickets.
On fight night, early unaudited returns showed that 65,370 people paid to see Ali's victory. One veteran Dome official estimated the crowd count at closer to 71,000, and the gate nearer to $6 million than $4.8 million.
Less than 12 hours after the fight—after rounding up a judge on Saturday morning—Dimaggio, a traffic management specialist and wholesale liquor distributor, and New Orleans Councilman Ciaccio filed a suit in civil district court charging Copelin and Hubbard with misappropriating more than $1 million.
Over the weekend, at the urging of Bob Wright (Team B, the Lafayette Group), Dimaggio and Ciaccio met with Copelin and Hubbard. The latter two agreed to meet all Dimaggio and Ciaccio's demands if the suit was dropped. There would also be a statement saying that it was all a misunderstanding.
Dimaggio and Ciaccio, who each held a 21% share of LSI, had demanded from their two black partners their share of the $200,000 finder's fee paid to LSI by Top Rank, and insisted that LSI only pay $50,000 of an additional $250,000 in finder's fees still reportedly owed Lewis and Alden MacDonald, the president of Liberty Bank of New Orleans. MacDonald already had been given $25,000 for bringing the LSI people together with the Lafayette Group. Copelin and Hubbard agreed they wouldn't give Lewis any more money, and they would give MacDonald only two-thirds of another $75,000 promised him.
"We got what we wanted without prejudice," Ciaccio said. "We got $45,000 from the finder's fee, and we saved having to pay $45,000. But I didn't like that 'misunderstanding' thing. There was no misunderstanding. But Jake and I went along. It was a big mistake."
The statement that Copelin and Hubbard asked for was issued at 9 a.m. Monday. At 10:31, at a press conference planned the night before by Copelin, Hubbard and Lewis, Ali launched a stunning attack at whites in general, and at Jews and Italians in particular, and at Dimaggio and Ciaccio in absentia.