The curious case of Buboy Fernandez
14 Dec 2012
CHICAGO -- At about 4:52 pm Thursday afternoon here in Chicago, I was able to get hold of Mr. Al Bello, the decorated Getty Images photographer who was allegedly assaulted by two key Pacquiao aides last Saturday night atop the MGM Grand Garden Arena ring in Las Vegas, Nevada.
My phone conversation with Bello was warm and cordial, but it lasted just a mere one minute and seven seconds.
After asking him about the incident involving Pacquiao's adviser Michael Koncz and assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez, Bello politely declined, thanked me for calling and said "Sorry, I can't comment. It's out of my hands now."
I'm not a psychic and nor am I clairvoyant. But my understanding of the phrase "it's out of my hands now" suggests that Bello has already retained the legal representation, which means Buboy and Koncz could be very likely be slapped with both criminal and civil lawsuits.
But if a crime was indeed committed, what exactly was it? What are the penalties and ramifications as it pertains to Buboy's profession and future here in the United States.
Ignorance is bliss is a phrase that doesn't apply here. Quite the contrary, in this case, knowledge is power. That being said, I consulted the opinions of two distinguished members of the California bar --- San Francisco-based lawyer Sydney Hall and attorney Alberto "Abet" Montefalcon Jr., an old pal of mine from Cebu City who now has a healthy and expanding law practice based in Sacramento.
This whole process, Hall explained, kicks off with an investigation to be conducted by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC). And if there is a preponderance of evidence to support assault and battery charges, the NSAC will then refer the matter to the Attorney General or the District Attorney's Office.
If deemed fit, the NSAC wields the power to suspend Fernandez's trainer license for up to 90 days.
"This could potentially entail charges," Montefalcon said. But Montefalcon also stressed that "everyone is presumed innocent" and that the filing of charges "is not tantamount to guilt."
If Buboy had indeed hit Bello, was malice or intent a component in the creation of that contact? Or, was Buboy's contact with Bello merely incidental in his desperate attempt to clear the ring to allow more air to flow as Pacquiao laid on the crowded canvas?
Was Buboy in full control of his mental faculties, or was he in a fog of depression as he helplessly watched his best friend and employer get brutally knocked out?
Very tough questions, indeed. Fortunately, it is not us but the proper authorities who will have to deal with this unenviable task.
I spoke to Buboy on the phone sometime Thursday night and he was understandably bothered by the looming legal drama. He was particularly concerned that a possible case against him, criminal or civil, would affect his ability to continue coming to the United States moving forward.
Buboy has absolutely nothing to worry about, assures Montefalcon who specializes in U.S. Immigration Laws.
"This has no bearing at all and the filing of any possible charges doesn't automatically revoke his visa," Montefalcon explained. This is not a case concerning "public issue" that sparked "public outrage."
Besides possible assault and battery charges, Buboy could also face a civil suit for "torturous interference with economic interest," which means that the alleged attack hindered Bello from doing his job and, consequently, from earning a living. As Hall described it, "this was arguably the knockout of the century" and Bello could have possibly made some money if he had continued on shooting pictures in the aftermath of the carnage.
Even if the concerned parties agree to settle out of court, such action doesn't mean the district attorney loses the authority to press charges. What a settlement does is that it takes away the helpful cooperation of the injured party, thereby making the case a little more difficult to stand in a criminal court of law.
Ultimately, the hope is that this episode ends well to the complete satisfaction of all parties involved. If Bello chooses to sue, then that's his right, a recourse that is guaranteed in a robust democracy such as these United States.
I've known Buboy since 2002. I met him in Memphis, Tennessee, where he worked Pacquiao's corner against Julio Elicer Jorge in the undercard of the Lewis-Tyson heavyweight fight at The Pyramid, now renamed FedEx Forum, home of the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA.
Buboy is a sweet kid who will willingly give the shirt off his back to help a friend. And if good things really happen to good people, I pray that he comes out of this episode doing okay.
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