Jimmy Feigen Paid $10,800 to Get His Passport Back and Leave Brazil
It sure sounds like Brazilian authorities tried to scam U.S. swimmer Jimmy Feigen out of money.
Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
Jimmy Feigen, one of the U.S. swimmers involved in Lochte/PissGate, finally made it home to Austin, Texas, on Saturday. On Tuesday he released a statement addressing the story that should never have been a story and yet gripped the world anyway. Feigen was unaccounted for during much of the early goings on after Lochte skipped town and Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were yanked off a plane attempting to do the same. We've since learned that he was the only swimmer available to speak to police after the incident and the USOC told him to provide a statement.
Feigen now admits that he left out a few details in this first statement—that they had urinated behind the gas station and that Lochte had ripped down a poster in a metal frame—but said he was just trying to protect his teammates. When he was scheduled to leave Rio, police told him they were "investigating the matter and my passports was to be held until further information was provided." Feigen said he voluntarily handed over his passport and eventually provided another statement, in which he included the previously omitted information. Then things got dicey.
He was taken to court and waited while his Brazilian attorney, the prosecutor, and the judge figured out a plan of action. Eventually the came up with this: either stay in Brazil for at least a month while we investigate the matter, or give us the equivalent of US$31,250, perform 15 days of community service, and you can have your passport back and leave. A month seems like an awfully long time to investigate a false communication of a crime case, and $31K seems like an awfully large fine for the same, so Feigen and his lawyers rejected the deal. He didn't elaborate on why—other than safety concerns—but likely because they felt like they were being extorted:
"I called my American attorneys to discuss what to do. We decided that this amount was unreasonable and due to safety concerns, this offer was also rejected. The prosecutor's response was to increase the fine to R$150,000.00 ($46,875.00 USD).
"Finally, all parties agreed to a R$35,000.00 ($10,800.00 USD) fine. This fine was to be paid within three days. If it was not paid, the fine would be increased back to R$150,000.00. I was able to contact my family in the United States along with my American attorneys and we were able to satisfy the payment of the fine the next day. My passport was returned to me after payment was received, and I was able to return home."
There's no way to know for sure just how shady this was, but Feigen was never charged with anything the entire time he was essentially under arrest in Rio and was only ever released upon payment of a significantly lower amount than initially demanded.
Feigen isn't the only Olympic athlete who had to pay up for his passport after a run-in with the law this month. The Australian Olympic Committee paid a fine of AUS$36,000 after nine of their athletes were caught fudging their passes to get into other events at the Games and had their passports and travel documents taken.
You can read Feigen's whole statement below, which includes a rundown of what happened at the gas station that night. It lines up with much of the story as we've come to learn it, but there is no mention of Lochte's escalation with one of the security guards. Feigen and Bentz were confronted by a man with a gun who demanded money, which they provided, and they then left in a separate cab, presumably while Lochte and Conger remained.