Authorities Investigating Carolina Panthers Owner David Tepper As Part Of Criminal Probe

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Los Angeles Rams
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is being investigated as part of a criminal probe as authorities try to figure out whether public funds were misused when Tepper and his real estate company attempted to build a practice facility for the NFL team in South Carolina. Back in 2019, Tepper, a 65-year-old hedge fund manager, announced he would build an $800 million practice facility with a sports medicine complex, offices, hotels and entertainment. At the time, South Carolina’s political leaders offered excitement and incentives for the effort. However, less than two years later, Tepper’s company stopped work on the project and suddenly declared bankruptcy. Now, his company is trying to sell the land.

The York County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday night that state agents and prosecutors have launched an investigation into whether an actual crime occurred, regarding Tepper’s use of public funds as part of the failed project.

“An investigation is simply an inquiry and should not create any inference that wrongdoing has been committed by any party,” York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson and Solicitor Kevin Brackett said in a joint statement.

Tepper’s company has denied wrongdoing and also blamed Rock Hill for failing to come through with city bonds and other public funding it promised. The timing of the investigation is being questioned by Tepper’s company as it comes just days after a settlement was reached between the team and York County to repay more than $21 million, the reported amount of sales tax funds earmarked by the County for repairing roads around the proposed facility. The settlement has not yet been filed or approved by a judge.

After Tepper filed for bankruptcy, York County accused Tepper’s company of taking $21 million of sales tax money and spending it on a“failed vanity project.”

“Rather than cover the ballooning project budget themselves, the Tepper Defendants took money from York County and its taxpayers,” the county said in court documents as part of its lawsuit.

Tepper bought the Panthers in 2018 for $2.2 billion. He is considered to be one of the NFL’s wealthiest owners. Tepper has been criticized as of late for failing to acquire a franchise quarterback and for hiring Matt Rhule, widely considered to be a failing coach.