The former chief operating officer of a now defunct youth soccer organization was charged on Friday in connection with a wide-ranging visa fraud conspiracy which had ties to several professional soccer teams, including the National Women’s Soccer League’s Sky Blue FC and the now defunct Boston Breakers.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts, announced on Friday that Justin Capell agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud. Global Premier Soccer (GPS), which was based in Waltham, Mass., allegedly brought more than 100 foreign coaches to the United States under the pretense that they would work as professional scouts for the Breakers and Sky Blue, among other organizations named in the charges. The Boston Globe reported that contracts with professional teams ranged from $25,000 to $50,000 per team in order to secure P-1S visas reserved for professional coaches and support personnel.
The scheme, according to charges and multiple reports, entailed GPS paying the professional teams to access P-1s visas by calling GPS employees scouts for those teams, only for the GPS employees to coach in other areas of the country and never report to those teams. Sky Blue FC was responsible for over 40 such applications, according to the Globe. A Sky Blue FC spokesperson issued a statement to The Equalizer, saying:
“In 2018, Sky Blue personnel became aware of an investigation relating to Global Premier Soccer. The team has received no further information about the investigation since then and has had no relationship with GPS since 2016.”
New Jersey outlet GoLocalProv obtained emails with Governor Phil Murphy — who is also co-owner of Sky Blue FC — discussing the visas and scouting arrangement with co-owner Steven Temares. Murphy and Temares “are copied on several emails between GPS, Sky Blue, and their attorneys in which they are negotiating a deal,” according to the report.
Current Racing Louisville head coach Christy Holly is also copied on emails in the report. Holly was the head coach of Sky Blue FC in 2016 and in an interview with the Globe published this week described himself as “the mutual connection” between GPS and Sky Blue FC. Holly told the Globe that while none of the GPS coaches worked as scouts for Sky Blue, he did benefit from their information on “multiple occasions” when signing or drafting a player.
“I really do feel for [Capell] because when everybody involved goes through their attorneys and follows those guidelines, the expectation is that you’re doing things right,” Holly told the Globe.
Racing Louisville did not respond to a request for comment.
The professional team accused of being the largest perpetrators in the scheme no longer exists. Before the Breakers folded in early 2018, they submitted more than 70 petitions to U.S. immigration authorities stating that visa applicants would scout for the team, according to records obtained by the Globe.
Two prominent members of the former Breakers organization are named as individuals — but not co-conspirators — in the charging documents: one “was a resident of Massachusetts and part owner and Co-Managing Partner of the Boston Breakers.” The other was a UK citizen and “served as General Manager and at different times as President of Soccer Operations and Development for the Boston Breakers.” Prior to working for the Breakers, that individual worked at GPS.
John Power and Michael Stoller were co-managing partners and part owners of the Breakers. Lee Billiard, now the head of women’s football of English top-flight club Bristol City, was the general manager of the Breakers and worked at GPS prior to his time with the NWSL club.
Nobody who worked at any of the NWSL clubs has been charged or named as co-conspirators.
The Breakers folded in early 2018 after a prospective investor fell through following months of a planned takeover. Kyle Corkum, who was leading the takeover effort, soon fell into multiple, major lawsuits, including with the company he once worked for which was to take over the Breakers. The land which was planned to be used in part as the future home of the Breakers also became entangled in legal troubles. Throughout The Equalizer’s reporting on the demise of the Breakers, two sources — one previously connected to the team — indicated that the planned takeover included GPS staff serving in quasi-front office roles for the Breakers. Those plans never developed due to the team folding.
GPS shut down in 2020 when its parent company filed for bankruptcy. According to the Globe report, thousands of people are owed a combined $30 million, with little hope of recovering it.
Capell, 39, faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. In May 2020, Gavin MacPhee, a former GPS employee, pleaded guilty to destroying records in connection with this investigation.