U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8) today applauded the indictment on Wednesday of two former sports gear executives who allegedly bilk taxpayers through a scheme involving the sale of refurbished football helmets to public schools. Rep. Pascrell, who introduced the Children's Sports Athletic Equipment Safety Act in March, was heartened by the U.S. Attorney's Office continuing investigation of Circle System Group, Inc.
"If the two former Circle System executives who were indicted in federal court yesterday are found guilty, we can hardly be surprised. We already know that the company lied about the safety of their helmets," said Pascrell. "If Circle had no concern for the safety of young athletes, why would we expect the company to care about the taxpayers in the school districts with which they did business? The legislation I introduced in March is aimed at protecting our young athletes from fraudulent companies. I am heartened that the U.S. Attorneys office is working to protect the taxpayers as well."
Pascrell's statement followed the indictments on Wednesday of two men, who had held high-ranking positions in Circle Systems Group, Inc. of Easton, Pa., who were accused of falsifying competitive bids from other companies. The point of the scheme was to make Circle's bids appear to be the lowest to the school systems that contracted with them. One of the schools Circle is accused of defrauding is Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne, N.J.
In 2008, Circle's former CEO, pleaded guilty to a number of charges, including lying about helmet safety tests.
This implicit threat to young athletes prompted Rep. Pascrell to urge the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Operating Committee no Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) for higher safety standards for refurbished helmets.
The Children's Sports Athletic Equipment Safety Act Rep. Pascrell introduced in March sets a deadline, nine months after enactment, for improvements by industry groups to the voluntary standard for football helmets. If that deadline is not met, the CPSC must set mandatory football helmet standards to protect children's safety.
The NFL Players Association is among 10 organizations and high-profile individuals that have already endorsed the Children's Sports Athletic Equipment Safety Act.
Pascrell has been a champion of protecting young athletes for years, raising awareness of traumatic brain injury dangers and treatments that can be sustained during youth athletics. In September, his Concussion Treatment and Care Tools (ConTACT) Act, which provides for national protocols to be established for managing sports-related concussions, passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a voice vote.