Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar has changed his legal team in his fight against four counts of felony armed robbery charges after a report Friday surfaced that payouts to four witnesses had allegedly occurred in attorney Michael Grieco’s office.
Grieco confirmed that he was no longer on the case in a statement Monday morning.
“We agreed that new counsel would allow for continued advocacy of Mr. Dunbar’s innocence without any collateral distractions,” Grieco wrote in a text to The Seattle Times.
News of the change was first reported by Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News, and later reported by Daniel Wallach of The Athletic.
Grieco had also recently brought on a second lawyer, Michael Weinstein. Both are being replaced by Andrew Rier and Jonathan Jordan. In their first move as Dunbar’s new lawyers, Rier and Jordan on Sunday filed a request for all evidence in the case.
Dunbar was charged in May with four counts of armed robbery in an incident in Miramar, Florida, in which Dunbar and New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker and another unidentified man were said to have taken $73,000 in cash and jewelry from four other men at a party that included an illegal dice game.
A day after news of the incident broke, Grieco revealed he had affidavits from the four witnesses who had changed their story and were now saying Dunbar was not involved. But a New York Daily News story Friday revealed that Grieco was being investigated for having paid the four men a combined $55,000 to recant their stories.
Grieco denied that assertion in a statement Friday night saying in part “my office obtained accurate and truthful affidavits consistent with the independent witness and my client’s account” and alleging that the witnesses were “actively extorting both Baker and Dunbar.”
Grieco conducted a series of media interviews in May in which he said he was confident the existence of the affidavits of Dunbar’s innocence would compel the state of Florida to drop the case.
But that has yet to happen, with the state still considering whether to go forward. The COVID-19 pandemic also appears to have led to a delay in the process.
Rier and Jordan are Miami-based criminal defense lawyers who recently helped get murder charges dropped against Antoine Webster, the brother of NFL player Kayvon Webster, a free agent who spent last season with Washington.
Dunbar also spent last season playing with Washington before being traded to the Seahawks in March for a fifth-round draft pick.
Dunbar has one year remaining on his contract and has been expected to take over the starting right-cornerback spot. His attorneys last week had filed a petition asking for him to be allowed to travel to training camp, which had been unopposed by the state and as of Monday morning remained unopposed.
After the New York Daily News report broke Friday, the paper also reported it had sources indicating the Giants could soon cut Baker.
There’s been no indication that the Seahawks are considering such a move with Dunbar, who faces lesser charges than does Baker, who has four counts of armed robbery as well as four counts of aggravated assault. Baker’s attorney, Bradford Cohen, took to social media Friday to deny Baker was involved in any scheme to pay off witnesses.
Dunbar, 27, is entering the final year of his contract and is due to make $3.25 million in base salary in 2020. Dunbar was traded in part because he was in a contract dispute with Washington, wanting the team to give him a long-term deal.
Seattle’s starting left cornerback, Shaquill Griffin, is also entering the final year of his contract.
After Dunbar was initially charged he took a few days away from the Seahawks’ virtual offseason program.
But he returned to it soon, with coach Pete Carroll saying in June that Dunbar had been a full participant in the meetings at the end of the sessions.
“He is back and participating with us,” Carroll said last month. “We’ll see what happens with that.”
The two players could also face discipline from the NFL as the league reviews the case.