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Cal Poly gets OK to cover Al Moriarty's name on scoreboard, for now

The words "Moriarty Enterprises" on the Alex G. Spanos Stadium scoreboard were covered up during Cal Poly's June 2015 graduation ceremonies.
The words "Moriarty Enterprises" on the Alex G. Spanos Stadium scoreboard were covered up during Cal Poly's June 2015 graduation ceremonies. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

Nearly a year after Cal Poly Hall of Famer Al Moriarty was convicted of fraud charges, a temporary agreement has allowed the university to cover his name on the scoreboard at Alex G. Spanos Stadium, according to court documents.

Moriarty, 82, defrauded 170 investors of $22 million in a Ponzi scheme, using investor money to pay other investors and himself. Many of his investors were recruited through Moriarty’s contacts at Cal Poly.

A former football player, Moriarty was also a major booster. In 2009, while engaged in a Ponzi scheme, he paid $625,000 for naming rights to a new video scoreboard through the Cal Poly Foundation. As a result, the scoreboard included a 53-foot ad, reading “Moriarty Enterprises” across the top.

Moriarty pleaded no contest to seven felony fraud charges in August. In September, he was given a five-year sentence, which is being served in San Luis Obispo County Jail.

Cal Poly has tried to have the name legally covered or removed for more than a year. But once Moriarty declared bankruptcy in Washington state in 2012, the scoreboard became the property of the bankruptcy trustee assigned to repay his creditors. Because some of the $625,000 came from investors Moriarty defrauded, the trustee said, they were entitled to the money.

In legal motions, Cal Poly argued it should be allowed to remove the name because Moriarty acted in bad faith by committing acts of fraud.

In September, a bankruptcy court judge ruled that Cal Poly could not cover or alter the sign without the trustee’s approval.

While the Moriarty sign remained on the scoreboard through the duration of the football season, the trustee and Cal Poly will negotiate the scoreboard issue in a court-sponsored mediation program, according to a document filed this month with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Washington state, where Moriarty most recently lived.

In exchange for some extensions, the trustee agreed to let the Moriarty sign be covered.

“As part of the stipulation, the trustee has agreed to temporarily cover the ‘Moriarty Enterprises’ name on the scoreboard during the pendency of the lawsuit until any settlement or judgment as set forth in the stipulation,” reads the motion, filed on behalf of the trustee.

The next hearing on the scoreboard is set for July 30.

“The litigation between Cal Poly and the Moriarty bankruptcy trustee over the Spanos Stadium scoreboard remains unresolved,” Cal Poly said in a statement Tuesday. “However, we have been able to reach an agreement that the sign can be covered until the litigation is resolved.”

Jeremy Faith, an attorney representing the trustee, Michael P. Klein, could not be reached for comment.

While Cal Poly has previously proposed covering Moriarty’s ad with signs reading “Go Cal Poly” or “#CalPoly,” during the recent graduation ceremonies, it was simply concealed by a black cover.

As part of his $625,000 donation, Moriarty was also given tickets to Cal Poly sporting events. In April, the trustee donated those tickets to the Boys & Girls Club of San Luis Obispo.

Moriarty is expected to be released from County Jail on Dec. 20, according to the Sheriff’s Office website.

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