ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Boxing promoters Bob Arum and Cedric Kushner agreed Wednesday not to do business in New Jersey while they fight the state's push to ban them permanently.
In 4-0 votes, the state Casino Control Commission approved consent agreements between the promoters and the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, which is seeking to bar the two because of wrongdoing revealed during last summer's trial of IBF founder Robert W. Lee Sr.
The Division of Gaming Enforcement, which acts as police and prosecutor for the casino industry, filed papers last month recommending the revocation of Arum's and Kushner's licenses to do business with casinos because they lacked "good character, honesty and integrity."
Both are fighting the sanctions, but no hearing dates have been set by the commission for their challenges.
The casino commission was to impose temporary bans Wednesday, but stopped short of doing so after lawyers for the two and representatives of the Division of Gaming agreed to the interim ban.
The net effect is largely the same. Neither had fights planned here in the immediate future.
But their lawyers said Arum and Kushner are outraged that the promoters - who cooperated with prosecutors in the Lee trial and were never criminally charged - are being targeted by the state.
"Bob Arum is a person who made one mistake but who is, on balance, a hero who should be admired," said his lawyer, Judd Burstein.
In seeking the bans, the Division of Gaming cited Lee trial testimony in which Arum, president of Top Rank Inc., admitted making a $100,000 payoff to the IBF to sanction a 1995 title fight between George Foreman and Axel Schulz.
Kushner, owner of CKP Productions Inc., admitted making payments to the IBF over a seven-year period to get the sanctioning body to rank fighters.
Neither was charged criminally, but their conduct constituted both commercial bribery and misconduct by a corporate official, which are disqualifying offenses for casino service industry license holders in New Jersey, Deputy Attorney General Steven Robertson said.
Burstein said prosecutors never would have known about the cash-for-rankings schemes if it weren't for Arum.
"The government came to Bob Arum to ask him general questions about boxing, and he revealed all this. He went in to see them without a lawyer. He didn't ask for immunity; he worked for them. He testified in the grand jury; he never asked for anything in return or any protection. He put himself at risk because he wanted to make things right," Burstein said.
Now, he's being punished for it, according to Burstein, who said Arum agreed to cease operations in New Jersey because he didn't want the stigma of an actual ban imposed by the commission.
Kushner makes the same case.
He offered to cooperate with gaming enforcement officials. He was never charged criminally, and boxing regulators in at least two other states - New York and Nevada - have said they won't seek license revocations for him, according to his lawyer, Peter Harvey.
In addition, U.S. Attorney Robert J. Cleary wrote a letter to commission Chairman James Hurley in which he lauded Kushner for his cooperation and called the prospect of a license revocation for him "unduly harsh."
Other promoters and managers who made payoffs but didn't cooperate in the Lee trial aren't being punished, Harvey said.
"We're not suggesting no sanction, just not revocation," Harvey said.
J.P. Suarez, director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement, defended his agency's action.
"What they did clearly violated state law. This kind of conduct relates directly to the sport of boxing and reflects, as clearly as any conduct can, on somebody's good character, honesty and integrity," he said.
Lee, who was accused of taking bribes to rank fighters, was acquitted on all but six of 33 charges lodged against him.