A 32-year-old man who authorities allege made numerous prank phone calls to current and former professional and college sports coaches was charged on Tuesday with felony eavesdropping.
The defendant, Kenneth Tarr, was arrested on Dec. 9 at his residence in the 1700 block of Kingsley Ave. after Los Angeles Police Department detectives and private investigators from the National Football League determined Tarr was the individual behind the prank phone calls.
Tarr allegedly found contact information for the sports coaches through the Internet, called them claiming he represented another team or university and told the victims they were being considered for other coaching jobs. Tarr allegedly videotaped himself making the calls and recorded the conversations on a speakerphone, and later posted them on social media websites.
Authorities with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office have identified approximately six instances involving Tarr and the prank phone calls, but police believe there were likely 15 to 20 calls that were made over the past two to three months, according to Lt. Marc Reina, with the LAPD’s Hollywood Division. The investigation is ongoing.
“What Kenneth Tarr was doing was he was calling different NFL coaches, Major League Baseball coaches, coaches for the NBA and college coaches, posing as an agent representing another school or team, and offering them a job,” Reina said. “As you can imagine, it caused a lot of confusion. Imagine if you call the Denver Broncos or the Miami Dolphins and tell them there is a coaching job open, people on the teams start talking about it, and it starts to spread within the ranks of the NFL. It starts all sorts of confusion with the coaching staffs.”
Two of the people Tarr allegedly duped are former NFL coach and current NBC sports analyst Tony Dungy, and current Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. Tarr allegedly contacted the coaches offering them a recent open coaching position at the University of Southern California. Dungy referenced the offer on the Dan Patrick Show stating that he had no interest in the job, but later denounced Tarr’s actions when he learned he had become a victim.
USC also released a statement attributed to Athletic Director Pat Haden stating, “Tony’s discussion on the radio of being contacted by USC was a complete surprise to us. So were the calls made to the Broncos. I can assure you no authorized representative of USC or our athletic department made these calls.”
Reina said private investigators with the NFL initially launched an investigation into the incidents and then worked with investigators from the Hollywood Division when it was determined Tarr was allegedly making the calls from his residence in Hollywood. He said a search warrant was served at Tarr’s residence on the day of the arrest, and police confiscated a computer and other undisclosed evidence.
Reina said recording someone without their consent can be charged either as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances. Investigators sought felony charges against Tarr because of the widespread, public implications of the incidents. According to media reports, the defendant has a long history of making prank phone calls. He has also allegedly misrepresented himself in roles on daytime television shows such as “Judge Joe Brown”, “Judge Mathis” and “Judge Alex”.
Tarr is scheduled for arraignment on Dec. 30 in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. He is currently free on $20,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.
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