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Should Tom Gores’ family, specifically his uncle, Tom Joubran, concern the NBA?

To most fans, the Pistons’ next owner must pass one test.

Is he or she Karen Davidson? No? Perfect.

But that’s insufficient. We must scrutinize potential purchasers with a stronger lens. Thankfully, when it comes to Tom Gores, someone has already done a lot of the legwork.

When Gores’ Platinum Equity bought the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2009, Matt Potter of the San Diego Reader investigated Gores. He produced an article subtitled, “Billionaire Tom Gores and his family: Sexual affairs, lawsuits, Palestinian ties, Business hardball,” and it doesn’t disappoint.

I have to believe the NBA does substantial background checks of prospective owners. I don’t know how that process works, but after reading this piece, the league will probably have its hands full examining Gores, whose given first name is Tewfiq.

Much of the article focuses on Tom Joubran, Gores’ uncle:

But there is more to the story of Tom Gores and his large, extended family.

He was mentored through childhood, adolescence, and college by Tom Joubran, who became a grocer after arriving in this country and battled years of ethnic bias and criminal charges that he attributes to jealousy and discrimination because he came from the Middle East.

It was Joubran who sponsored the 1969 immigration of the Gores family, including his sister Marie, from Nazareth to Flint, where many members of the Joubran family live.

“I’m so glad I brought them in here,” Joubran said last week. “I provided them a house to live. They worked for me, and I paid them money.”

“Tom [Joubran] was kind of the trailblazer for the family,” recalls his nephew Brian Joubran in a recent telephone interview. “He became very successful in Michigan, and he is a very family-oriented person. He helped out the family a lot in Michigan, which meant that if we needed work and we needed help getting some type of income, Tom would hire us or we would go to Tom and ask him if we could work in one of his grocery stores and he would help us out, and he was very accommodating.

“I think that’s why Tom and Alec [Gores] attribute most of their success to Tom Joubran, because there was a lot of teaching and learning that was being exchanged from family member to family member.”

In 2002, the two Gores brothers, by then living in California, gave $250,000 to their alma mater, Genesee High, to replace the old cinder track with one surfaced with asphalt and rubber. The contribution was recognized with a plaque honoring Tom Joubran and his wife Julia on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary.

But there is another side of Tom Joubran.

He has endured decades of controversy: In 1980, during testimony before a United States Senate subcommittee, the executive director of the Saginaw Valley Crime Commission listed him as a “person of interest,” purportedly involved in “organized criminal activities” in the Flint, Michigan area.

Joubran has long maintained that he was a victim of prejudice against Arabs, as well as a vengeful county prosecutor with his own unsavory ties, an integral part of the rough-and-tumble criminal underworld that thrived in Flint and the surrounding Saginaw Valley.

His nemesis was Genesee County prosecutor Arthur Busch, who grew up in a blue-collar household near Flint and counts among his high school friends Michael Moore, the film director who began his career publishing the Flint Voice,an alternative newspaper.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s a gangster, and I don’t care if you print it,” Busch, now in private law practice, said of Joubran during a recent telephone interview. Over the years, Busch accused Joubran of a litany of crimes. One case involved a charge of felonious assault brought by Busch against Joubran in 1995. It was described in a November 2003 Michigan Court of Appeals document.

“The charge arose from a complaint that [Joubran] pointed a gun at a highway worker. [Joubran] entered a no contest plea to the charge of attempted felonious assault and was sentenced to a term of three years’ probation, two hundred hours of community service and costs.”

During that case, a former Joubran employee, Wayne Atwell, testified under oath that Joubran had told him he could have Busch and his family killed, according to an August 1995 Flint Journal account. Joubran denied the allegation. In court, Atwell said that he had four felony convictions and had been sent back to jail after Joubran accused him of taking $1700, the article said. Joubran said he was forced to plead nolo contendere to the gun charges because he didn’t want to risk a prison sentence for the three felony counts originally filed against him, according to a January 1996 Flint Journal report. He was sentenced to a term of three years’ probation, 200 hours of community service, and costs, according to Michigan court records.

In an interview last week, Joubran said he pled no contest because he feared he couldn’t get a fair trial in Flint.

During Busch’s investigation of Joubran, Parish told authorities that when she was a teenager, she had a sexual relationship with Joubran. She later recanted her testimony, claiming that Busch coerced her to make false statements against Joubran.

“In her deposition taken pursuant to the subpoena, Parish testified to sexual conduct with [Joubran] when she was fifteen years old,” according to the court record. “[Joubran] has submitted an affidavit from Parish in conjunction with the present suit, in which she alleged that a member of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department approached her at her home and attempted to force her to provide testimony regarding [Joubran].

It’s unfair to denounce Joubran for crimes he was never convicted of, and it’s even more unfair to assume Gores shares  the suggested ethical leanings of his uncle. But Potter uncovered an incident directly involving Gores and his brother, Alec Gores:

Sometime in 2000, Alec’s wife Lisa and his brother Tom began having an affair. Alec suspected something was amiss and retained the services of Pellicano, known for his ability to dig up dirt by using illegal wiretaps and an extensive network of police officers on the take.

During Pellicano’s 2008 trial, Lisa testified that she had called Tom after an early-evening rendezvous at the Beverly Hills Hotel to warn him that she thought they had been followed. One of Pellicano’s illegal wiretaps picked up the 25-minute conversation; the FBI subsequently obtained the tape and played it at the trial.

“Worst case, he had someone following me. So I went to a hotel — big deal,” Lisa was heard saying on the tape. “I’m not going to ever say anything unless I’m confronted. I’ll just deny everything forever.” She continued, “This is the bottom line, Tommy, no one saw inside the room. End of story.” Said Tom, “I don’t want you to have pressure on you.”

Later, Alec testified that he had paid Pellicano a total of $240,000 for his efforts. He also paid for a trip to Hawaii for Pellicano and his family because the private eye “was doing a good job.”

After Pellicano confirmed Alec’s suspicions, Alec confronted Lisa at a family meeting he called with her and his two brothers, Tom and Sam. “I told her at one time I had listened to conversations,” he testified. Lisa and Alec later divorced, but Tom has remained married to his wife Holly, to whom he has been married since their days in Michigan.

I’ve already excerpted a ton from this amazingly reported article, and I don’t want to overstep fair use. You should really read it. There’s a lot more about Gores and his family that I haven’t mentioned here. But I want to leave you with one more snippet from Joubran talking about his run-ins with Busch:

But Joubran said he was reluctant to discuss the matter further because his nephew Tom Gores didn’t want him to rehash the family’s past troubles.

“I don’t have to mention anything about that because my nephew don’t like this kind of stuff, okay? You can’t dredge up Arthur Busch. Leave Arthur Busch out of the picture. We don’t know him, we don’t like him, we don’t want anything to do with him. He’s the nastiest prosecutor we ever had.

“My nephews are doing big, God bless their heart. They came into this country, I sponsored them, and look at today where they are.

Where one of them is: on the verge of buying the Pistons. It’s time we start seriously questioning whether that’s a good thing.

30 Comments

  • [...] | Who is the Union-Tribune's new owner? Piston Powered has some excerpts if you prefer that. Should Tom Gores’ family, specifically his uncle, Tom Joubran, concern the NBA? PistonPowe… __________________ [...]

  • Feb 10, 201112:27 pm
    by Odeh

    Reply

    “but after reading this piece, the league will probably have its hands full examining Gores, whose given first name is Tewfiq”.  So basically the NBA should give him a hard time because he has Arab ties?  Are you kidding me Feldman!  You just lost a reader with this biased and racist article.  Based on your reasoning that his original name is Tewfiq, we should also assume that Feldman is a Jewish last name and pro-Israel and you are mad that a man with Palestinian ties is buying the Pistons.  Now that doesn’t sound fair does it?  So why are you doing it to him.

    • Feb 10, 201112:40 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Odeh, you can read into that out-of-context quote what you want. If you choose the interpretation you initially made, that’s your mistake.

      Have you seen it mentioned anywhere else that Gores’ given first name is Tewfiq? No? Me neither. Mentioning his given first name shows the level of research done by the author of the piece I linked. Nothing more.

      If you read anything beyond that quote in this post, you’ll see why the NBA should be asking questions about Gores’ family before the league approves him as an owner. That has nothing to do with his ethnicity.

    • Feb 10, 20111:06 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      “you just lost a reader!”

      Haha. Has to be my favorite threat. “I’m going to take the $0 I paid to read this site and go home!”

    • Feb 10, 20114:54 pm
      by Ryan

      Reply

      actually read the article next time, people that scream racist without even reading what the article actually says is amazing

    • Feb 10, 201110:02 pm
      by Jason

      Reply

      Odeh, Come on dude – I really don’t think Feldman was in any way being derogatory, bias or racist. He is quoting the work of another writer. He isn’t saying he has any personal feeling towards Gore, if you truly believe that, you obviously didn’t read the article.
       
      While I agree that most of this article doesn’t have a whole lot to do with Gore, but rather his family – your gripe is baseless ,and I would hate to think you would stop coming to this site because of it.
       
      And to be clear, Patrick – of course Odeh didn’t pay to come to this site, but it’s safe to say ever single time he comes to this page, you guys gain a little more revenue. I know that has nothing to do with anything, but of course you don’t want anyone deciding NOT to come back to this site, because he clearly MISREAD and MISUNDERSTOOD Feldman’s post.
       
      Whether his take was ridiculous or not, he’s a Pistons Powered reader, and i’m sure you guys want him to continue to be. Right?
       
      Im 100% with you guys on this one though, Odeh is definitely off base here.

  • Feb 10, 201112:55 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    i could give six shits. the guy could punch my grandma in the face as long as he fixes this godawful mess.

    • Jun 5, 20116:28 pm
      by Grandma

      Reply

      you never were a very good kid.  Plus, you were adopted.
      How dare you say Gores can hit me in the face!  Well, I never!
      What kind of a grandchild makes grandma cry?
       

  • Feb 10, 20111:01 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    I blame Will Bynum.

    • Feb 10, 20111:47 pm
      by Laser

      Reply

      +1
       
      if i had a time machine with which to back and set things right, i would suffocate will bynum in his bassinet before doing the same to hitler, because i have my priorities straight. i don’t think i could live with the grief if the time machine somehow malfunctioned and all i’d done was kill baby hitler, leaving will bynum free to play basketball. *shudder*

  • Feb 10, 20111:39 pm
    by Anthony

    Reply

    How great would it be if we could make this trade happen?!
    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine

    • Feb 10, 20111:49 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Anthony, I think your link got cut off. That just goes to the trade machine, not to a finished trade.

  • Feb 10, 20112:47 pm
    by Nick

    Reply

    I don’t really care what Gore’s background is. So what if he is crooked? Many people think Illitch has mob connections; and the Net’s new owner as well. These prospective buyers are all billionaires and I would be surprised if they were totally legit.

    • Feb 10, 20113:12 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Nick, it’s not about what we think. It’s about what Stern and the NBA think. You’re right, there are all kinds of shady allegiances out there in the world that billionaires live in, but if the NBA has reservations about a guy’s past business dealings, they can certainly hold up a sale or at the very least slow it down while they do their due diligence. I think most people assumed Gores would be a slam dunk. I think this story just shows that there will be more questions asked of him than are maybe being anticipated.

  • Feb 10, 20114:10 pm
    by Anthony

    Reply

    Well I was just thinking out of my head on this one, but how could we pull off a trade that would send Rip and Summers to Phienox for Steve Nash? Maybe by adding in a second round draft pick or some cash? Should we try and pull a third team too in the deal?

    • Feb 10, 20114:26 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      As funny as it would be to see Phoenix be more expensive swingman heavy than Detroit (Imagine the potentiall of a starting five of Rip, Childress, Carter, Dudley and Grant Hill with the reserves Pietrus, Frye and Warrick.

      But seriously, Phoneix would be the last team that would ever take on Hamilton’s contract, unless the Pistons took three of their smaller bad ones in return maybe. And for Nash? If they shop him, whic h is doubtful, they will get a haul in return.

  • Feb 10, 20114:32 pm
    by Fennis

    Reply

    The article does appear to cite “Palestinian ties” as one of many red flags re the Gore family. I find this xenophobic at the very least, but admittedly only one of many points in the article.
     
    On the whole, the article is pretty close to a smear. 3/4 of it is dedicated to the alleged and confirmed misdeeds of a shady uncle, which DF concludes shouldn’t in and of themselves taint Tom Gore. If true, all we’re left with is the allegation of an extramarital affair which is no more newsworthy than a TMZ story on Kim Kardashian’s love life.
     
    It isn’t fair to post an article about Gore’s uncle (full of unsubstantiated allegations), and then include a disclaimer that Gore shouldn’t be held to the actions of his uncle. You can’t have it both ways (well, I guess you can you but it undermines credibility). I just thinks its a bit shortsighted and disingenuous to post a sensational article and then intimate that the allegations shouldn’t be used to cast aspersions on the person of interest, Tom Gore. Food for thought.
     
    Re Will Bynum: PH, the guy should get credit for what he did last night. He took shots in rhythm and increased the pace of the game in a way that favored Detroit. But I challenge you to find one example where a top-5 coach in this league (Jackson, Popovich, Rivers, etc) allows his backup point guard, who is an average to below average passer, to hold the ball for as long as Will Bynum does on virtually every possession while leading the second string. If you can find an example, I’ll concede. My point is that Bynum is bound to have great nights for the Pistons *despite* his tendency to dominate the ball because of his talent level. I would love to see that talent honed and channeled within the team system rather than relegated to sporadic success and regular stretches of sloppy basketball.

    • Feb 10, 20115:32 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Fennis, the article was written when he bought a the Union-Tribune newspaper in San Diego. The political leanings of a newspaper’s owner are very important, especially when readers don’t know how they affect coverage in the paper. His Palestinian ties were definitely fair game in that context. They’re basically irrelevant as far as buying the Pistons, and that’s why I didn’t excerpt any of that portion of the article.

      I said it’s unfair to assume anything about Gores based solely on his uncle. But both Gores and Joubran mentioned Joubran’s influence and mentorship Gores’ life. At that point, it’s not near the line. It’s clearly in bounds to examine Joubran’s history when learning about Gores.

      Which allegations are unsubstantiated? That article was full of sourced facts.

  • Feb 10, 20114:59 pm
    by Charles Drummond

    Reply

    Dan:
    I’ve known the Gores brothers for over 30 years and Alec, Tom and Sam are three of the best people you’ll ever meet. Tom will make a great owner of the Pistons. Maybe do some original research instead of just copying info from other peoples’ work. Chuck Drummond

    • Feb 10, 20115:38 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Charles, I appreciate your comment. I have no reason to doubt Gores is a nice guy, but that doesn’t mean the NBA should necessarily approve his purchase, if he in fact does purchase the team. And it doesn’t mean anything in the article is incorrect. Gores might make a great owner, but there are red-flags that need to be investigated first.

  • Feb 10, 20116:35 pm
    by Fennis

    Reply

    Hm. If there was an article in China about a local business man with “American ties,” and noted that the businessman’s first name was “Jim” rather than a generic Chinese name, I think we’d at least question whether that individual was being unfairly scrutinized for their national and/or ethnic roots… The word “ties” is already fraught with ambiguity. Did he visit Palestine? Does he play Palestinian music in his car? Is his wife Palestinian? Do any of these things suggest his “perspective”? I hear your point, but just as “American ties” could mean anything from Tea Party member to ACLU member, “Palestinian ties” and a Middle Eastern first name tell us next to nothing, but may trigger biases against Middle Eastern folks, which has been a legitimate problem for Americans of Middle Eastern descent over the past few years.
     
    Granted, this was a sliver of a much longer post, but I thought it was important to share my two cents.

  • Feb 10, 20116:43 pm
    by Brad

    Reply

    The posted article doesn’t give any info on Tom Gores. At all. More or less, it’s just info on his family and speculation on Gores’ leanings. Unless Stern has a hardline policy on adultery then it’s a concern.

    • Feb 11, 201110:31 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      It certainly gives info on his family, the circumstances under which he accrued his personal wealth, etc.

  • Feb 11, 201112:00 am
    by Nick

    Reply

     

    I feel that the post is biased as well. The last sentence, “Where one of them is: on the verge of buying the Pistons. “It’s time we start seriously questioning whether that’s a good thing” is full of pretty strong words. Many owners have skeletons in their closets but its usually brushed off as unimportant or not reported at all. In this case, the high majority of these claims aren’t even surrounded around Tom Gores, but his uncle and family’s pro-palestine views. I don’t know; it just seems like this post would have been reported differently if not for Gores Middle Eastern ties. Instead of saying we should seriously question Gores, it probably would have ended by saying it was a story to keep an eye on.

     

    • Feb 11, 201110:22 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Nick:

      You could make a case that every post on this blog is biased. Dan and I give our opinion/analysis on virtually everything we write. It doesn’t mean either of us are right, necessarily, it’s just part of starting a discussion. Dan obviously felt strongly that the well-reported piece that he linked to raised some red flags. If you feel he’s mistaken, point out why. To draw the conclusion that Dan wrote what he wrote because Gores is from the Middle East is frankly pretty lazy.

  • Apr 11, 201111:40 am
    by Will

    Reply

    This is ridiculous and amazingly un-American.  Since when it someone held responsible for their uncle’s activities?
    The mention of his real name as an Arabic name is irrelevant and stinks BADLY of race-baiting and xenophobia.
    The Pistons are my team and many people from Detroit can relate to the struggles of migration — whether from overseas or from down south.  Here’s a guy who actually made the American dream come true and people want to attack him for allegations he did not even do himself. Unbelievable.
    I doubt that every NBA owner’s extended family was investigated and scrutinized… just another case of white privilege.
     

    • Apr 13, 20116:54 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Will, Gores isn’t responsible for his uncle’s actions. Never said he was. I pointed out his given name only to show how much homework that reporter did. Nobody else has done that level of reporting. I’d be shocked if the NBA doesn’t investigate and scrutinize everyone associated with potential owners.

  • Jun 4, 20119:00 am
    by Doug Johnson

    Reply

    Dan Feldman please stop your biased and dirty reporting.  Why are you on a guy that wants to help our miserable condition?  Why waste your time to continue digging up dirt that does not even belong to him.  You are obviously very biased because of your own ethnicity and support of Israel.  I congratulate Tom Gores for buying the Pistons and wish him well and will support him and his family for taking the steps to come back to Michigan and support our state. 

    Dan,  please be fair and honest and our local leadership.   You are losing your credibility by being so racists and biased.  DO NOT slam a nice guy just because he is from Palestine root (Nazareth is a Christian town and where Jesus was born).  Tom Gores is a good American Citizen that has contributed greatly to our American economy and obviously wants to help the local Michigan economy.  You should be fair and do the same on your own community if you dare.  I can think of so many that are so corrupt and wasted billions in corruption such as the Tubman family. 

    I hope this trash reporting and overwhelming feedback from the readers about your biased comments,  will teach you a lesson of respecting every American.

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