CONTROVERSIAL Halesowen Town Football Club chief Godfrey Ingram is facing a lawsuit in the United States which includes claims of racketeering, the News can reveal.
Papers for the civil action were filed at the Atlanta Office of the Georgia Northern District Court on February 8.
The case has been brought by Martin Stapleton and Christoph Gosselsroeder under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (RICO) Act and Ingram, aged 51, is listed as a defendant.
The RICO laws were launched in the 1970s to thwart organised crime outfits like the Mafia, but now cover a multitude of offences from murder and kidnap to extortion and embezzlement.
Three companies – Landmark Express LLC, Capital Funding Express Inc and BlueMax Ventures – are the other defendants.
Details of the first two companies are sketchy, but the website of Atlanta-based BlueMax names Ingram as the company president and includes a link to the Ingram Soccer Academy, a Bedfordshire-based football academy of which Ingram is also president.
Richard Eaton, vice-president of the academy, is also vice-president of Blue-Max, a company described on its website as “a technology driven corporation whose interests include call solutions, wireless network infrastructure, wealth management and more”.
Attorney Matthew Lazarus, who is representing both Mr Stapleton and Mr Gosselsroeder, was able to confirm opening pleadings of the lawsuit had been filed, though officials at court confirmed there has so far been no response from any of the defendants.
However, the News understands lawyers are currently trying to trace Ingram in both the UK and the US.
A former player for Luton Town and the San Jose Earthquakes, Ingram has been a contentious figure throughout his involvement with Halesowen Town.
He was initially a monetary backer of Morell Maison during the former manager’s disastrous reign and was the club’s biggest creditor when it entered administration with debts of almost £500,000 in September 2009.
He eventually clinched a deal to take over the club alongside brother Graham.
But since the end of last season the club has spiralled from one disaster to the next both on and off the pitch, with the Ingrams being openly criticised by players and fans.
With the playing budget having been slashed, the team is languishing at the bottom of the Southern League Premier and neither brother has been seen at the Grove since September.
However, while Godfrey has posed as a figurehead for the club and has been quoted in official press releases, he has no official role at the Yeltz.
It is brother Graham, and not Godfrey, who is listed as the club’s sole director at Companies House.