New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis had access to an electronic eavesdropping device that tapped into opposing coaches' communications at the Superdome, sources told ESPN.
If Loomis used such a device, his actions may have been criminal under federal and state wiretapping laws. But it may be too late to file charges. Loomis could face discipline by the NFL -- in addition to his current eight-game suspension for the Saints' bounty scandal.
Federal prosecutors "were just made aware" of Loomis' eavesdropping device on April 20, a U.S. attorney told ESPN. But the device's covert capabilities were allegedly set up 10 years ago.
Former Saints GM Randy Mueller initially installed the device in 2000 to monitor Saints coaches' game-day communications, sources told ESPN.
But when Mickey Loomis became the Saints' general manager in 2002, the device was rewired to monitor only opposing teams' coaching staffs. The device remained in place until 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, ESPN reports.
That means Loomis may have eavesdropped on opponents during 24 home games between 2002-04. However, it's not clear if Loomis ever used the device, according to ESPN.
Any use of the alleged Saints eavesdropping device may have violated federal law. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 prohibits actual or attempted interception of "any wire, oral, or electronic communication."
But the ECPA carries a five-year statute of limitations, ESPN reports. Because Loomis may have last used the device in 2004, he likely can't be prosecuted. Likewise, Louisiana's wiretapping law carries a six-year statute of limitations, according to ESPN.
However, Mickey Loomis' possible eavesdropping victims may be able to tackle him with a civil lawsuit. Victims generally must sue within two years from the time they had a "reasonable opportunity to discover" they were the subject of unlawful eavesdropping, ESPN reports.
It's more likely Mickey Loomis will face NFL sanctions for the alleged Saints eavesdropping device. If true, it explicitly violates NFL bylaws, according to ESPN. A Saints spokesman, however, called the allegations "1,000% false."
- Report: Loomis had ability to eavesdrop on visiting coaches on gameday (CBS Sports)
- Saints Bounty Appeal Denied by NFL, Payton Must Sit Out This Season (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
- State Statute of Limitations Laws (FindLaw)
- Constitution and Bylaws of the National Football League (NFL)