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Rio Olympics 2016: Brazil police - Lochte fabricated robbery

By Chris Spargo, Ruth Styles, Matt Roper, Ben Ashford

Video courtesy of Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3743679/Ryan-Lochte-seen-rushing-Olympic-village-new-security-footage-just-robbed-gunpoint-5am-nightclub-party.html

US swimmers Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz have told police that they fabricated claims that they and their Olympic teammate Ryan Lochte were robbed at a gas station on Sunday.

The sudden admission came as video was released in which the men can be seen running to and from the bathroom at the establishment, spending over 10 minutes at the gas station a little after 6am in the morning.

Sources have confirmed to DailyMail.com that Lochte and the group destroyed a door at the gas station and refused to pay for the damage until a security guard demanded they hand over money.

Video has emerged of Ryan Lochte and three US swimmers at the gas station where they claimed to have been robbed.
Video has emerged of Ryan Lochte and three US swimmers at the gas station where they claimed to have been robbed.

The gas station where the incident occurred is not the same one that Loochte initially told authorities he had been at on Sunday.

At the same time Lochte's teammates were confessing to police, a carefree Lochte posted a video of himself laughing and smiling on social media while singing "Happy Birthday" to fellow swimmer Elizabeth Beisel.

He posted the video on Instagram around 11:30am and took it down a little over an hour later.

US Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz, left, and Jack Conger after being questioned by police in Rio de Janeiro. Photo / AP
US Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz, left, and Jack Conger after being questioned by police in Rio de Janeiro. Photo / AP

Members of the group were caught urinating against a wall of the gas station and destroying an advertisement on the wall a source told DailyMail.com.

They were then asked to use the restroom and directed to where it was, then destroyed parts of that as well according to a source.

An official says that is when the guard, who was armed with a pistol but never took it out or pointed it at the swimmers, asked that they pay.

The gas station manager then arrived, the men paid and they left the station.

Lochte has yet to comment on Thursday, but on Wednesday insisted that he stood by his version of events, telling NBC's Matt Lauer he really was robbed in a phone conversation.

He did however change his story to say that a gun was never pointed at his head and that fake police did not side-swipe the cab he and his friends were in to get them to pull over.

That version of events differs drastically however from what once source told DailyMail.com.

"They stopped at a gas station and they were all really drunk. They went to the toilet and damaged it pretty badly," said the source.

"The security guy saw them and started arguing with them - telling them they had to pay. They refused and argued back."

Eventually however the men "gave him some money and left" claims the source.

Conger, 21, and Bentz, 20, were already seated aboard United Airlines flight 128 to Houston at Rio's Galeao International Airport on Wednesday when police came for them and removed them from the flight to ask them further questions about the events of Sunday.

The two were told by authorizes that they could not leave Brazil until they provided official sworn testimony about their alleged mugging at gunpoint along with Lochte and fourth teammate, Jimmy Feigen.

United States Olympic Committee spokesperson Patrick Sandusky said in a statement on Thursday morning: "The three U.S. Olympic swimmers (Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen) are cooperating with authorities and in the process of scheduling a time and place today to provide further statements to the Brazilian authorities.

"All are represented by counsel and being appropriately supported by the USOC and the U.S. Consulate in Rio."

On Wednesday morning, Lochte, 32, and Feigen, 26, were barred from leaving Brazil - but Lochte had already left - as police first revealed that the swimmers' accounts of the aftermath of the robbery do not match security footage which was exclusively obtained by DailyMail.com.

When contacted by the San Antonio Express on Wednesday, Feigen said: "I can't talk right now, I'm being s***stormed right now. I'm still in Brazil and [an interview] is going to have to wait."

He spoke again to the paper on Thursday, saying: "It sounds like people assume we're guilty."

Upon leaving police custody early on Thursday morning, Conger and Bentz refused to answer questions.

According to the United States Olympic Committee, 26-year-old Feigen "intends to make further statements regarding the incident on Thursday as well."

Conger and Bentz had spent more than three hours being interrogated by the Federal Police on Wednesday night before they were allowed to leave at 1:44am local time on Thursday.

Journalists asked them repeatedly if they had lied or whether they stood by the story but the pair remained silent.

Dave Fogelson, a spokesman for the US Consulate, ushered them towards an awaiting black mini-van but the pair were met by a media scrum and appeared bemused by the scene.

"We are just here to provide consular assistance," Fogelson said. "Due to privacy considerations we cannot give any more information but refer to Brazilian authorities in this matter for any more information."

Lochte's attorney, Jeff Ostrow, told CNN that his client and his three teammates were being targeted by embarrassed authorities for shining a light on Rio's endemic crime problem.

"When you have one of America's athletes who comes out and said something happened to him that happens to people there every single day," said Ostrow.

"That doesn't look good for a country trying to have a successful Olympics."

Indeed, while speaking to NBC's Matt Lauer on Wednesday night, Lochte stuck to his claim they were robbed but changed certain, crucial elements.

Lochte backed off some of his earlier assertions. He now says the taxi wasn't pulled over but that they were robbed of $400 after making a stop at a gas station.

He also said the assailant pointed a gun at him rather than putting it to his head.

Lochte told Lauer in the telephone interview on Wednesday that he was not told by anyone in Brazil to remain in the country but said he would cooperate, albeit from the United States.

Lauer also gave Lochte a chance to address speculation the entire armed robbery story was fabricated to cover-up for another nefarious activity - possibly with someone they wouldn't want to be associated with.

Lochte strongly denied this and said it was "absolutely not the case".

"I wouldn't make up a story like this nor would the others - as a matter of fact we all feel it makes us look bad," said Lauer, quoting Lochte. "We're victims in this and we're happy that we're safe."

Police probing the armed robbery account are understood to have tracked down the taxi driver who will be able to confirm or deny Lochte's hotly-contested claims.

Officers from the Civil Police are planning to interview the driver today to finally get to the bottom of the bizarre incident.

Lauer said on Today Thursday morning that there were not any major discrepancies in Lochte's new story, but host Billy Bush quickly interjected and pointed out that there were a number of major differences.

"He told me that the car was side-swiped and then pulled over to a gas station, when you spoke to him the car was not side-swiped, it was standing still," said Bush.

And then he talks about the guy pulled a gun out and put it to my head, that didn't happen, there was no gun to the head.

"He embellished a little bit when he told the guy, 'Look, I'm not getting down on the ground, and if you got a gun you can use it.' He told me he never had that Dirty Harry moment."

In the interview with Bush, Lochte said: "I was with a couple swimmers. We were coming back from France house. And we got pulled over in our taxi, and these guys came out with a badge - a police badge - no lights, no nothing, just a police badge.

"They pulled us over, they pulled out their guns, and they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground. They got down on the ground, but I refused. I was like, 'We didn't do anything wrong, so I'm not getting down on the ground.'

"And the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and said 'get down.' And I was like [Puts hands up in video] I put my hands up and I was like 'whatever'. He took our money, he took my wallet, and then..."

Bush then asked: "But he left your cellphone? He left your credentials?"

Lochte replied: "He left my cellphone. He left my credentials, but he took my wallet and he took all the guys' cash."

Ari Melber of MSNBC said that Lochte will likely not be extradited back to Brazil and is probably in the clear so long as official charges are not filed against him in the case.

Should that happen though there would certainly be international proceedings said Mebler, but that would not happen until much further down the line.

The three men who are still in Brazil however are subject to that country's laws, and could be looking at up to six months in prison if they are charged with giving false statements to police.

The men, who all have lawyers, do have the right to remain silent under questioning.

USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said on Wednesday night that "Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities. We are gathering further information."

Feigen checked in for a flight online but never showed up.

There are no charges facing the three men, according to police sources.

Representatives from the US consulate arrived at the airport shortly after the swimmers were held.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said that they were aware of the situation.

"We have seen media reports that two U.S. citizen athletes were detained. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance," Kirby said in a statement.

The investigation intensified on Wednesday as the swimmers started heading home to the U.S., and Brazilian judge Keyla Blanc De Cnop ordered the seizure of Lochte and Feigen's passports.

The judge said the two Olympic teammates had given contradictory accounts of the alleged robbery.

Lochte told police in Rio there was one armed robber, while Feigen gave a statement claiming there were more, one of whom had a gun.

Indeed, Conger and Bentz were not named by the Brazilian judge who wanted Lochte and Jimmy Feigen's passports seized, but now appear embroiled in the affair.

Steve Bentz, father of Gunnar Bentz, when reached by phone late Wednesday night, said: "I really don't want to say anything," and hung up.

Lochte's father, Steve Lochte, said that his son called him Tuesday after arriving in the United States.

The 32-year-old swimmer was going to pick up his car and buy a new wallet to replace the one that he said was stolen in the robbery.

"I'm just happy he's safe," the elder Lochte said. "It was an unfortunate experience for him and the other three. I don't know what all the controversy is. They were basically taken out of the taxi and robbed. The main thing is he's very lucky that he's safe and that all they got was his cash and wallet."

The elder Lochte said his son's Olympic credential and cell phone weren't taken during the incident early Sunday morning. He said he was sure Ryan had his passport or he would not have been allowed to board a plane.

Associated Press reporters waiting outside Lochte's home in North Carolina did not see the 12-time medalist.

Police initially interviewed Lochte and Feigen, who said they had been intoxicated and could not remember what type and color of taxi they rode in or where the robbery happened, the police official said.

The swimmers also could not say what time the events occurred.

Ostrow has said there is no question the robbery occurred.

"Why would anybody fabricate anything?" Steve Lochte said. "It's just ridiculous."

Wednesday evening's sensational developments at the airport came after police arrived at the Olympic Village on Wednesday to seize the passports of Lochte and Feigen in an attempt to keep them in the country for further questioning about the robbery they claim occurred early Sunday.

A judge gave authorities the go ahead after doubts began to grow over the claims made by the swimmers in light of the surveillance video obtained by DailyMail.com earlier this week showing the group laughing and smiling as they returned to the Olympic Village.

Lochte's mother later broke the news of the alleged robbery later that day while speaking with Fox Sports.

A formal request for their passports to be seized reveals that the two men will now be investigated for the false communication of a crime, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail in Brazil.

Records retrieved by investigators from the X-ray machine through which the athletes passed in the Village also showed that the men were carrying all the belongings which they had claimed in sworn statements to police had been stolen.

In the statement a public prosecutor said that the images from the surveillance video, along with "contradictory" statements made by the athletes to police, further reinforced investigators' doubt about the veracity of the athletes' claims they had been robbed.

It read: "One sees that the supposed victims arrived with their physical and psychological integrity intact, even playing with each other, showing that there wasn't any psychological shock inherent to such alleged violence.

"The more than calm behavior of the athletes straight after the supposed violence, together with other details present in the inquiry, makes me believe that more investigations should be undertaken into the possible false communication of a crime."

Blank, in her decision, noted that the men's claim to have left at 4am were also contradicted by "the images at the location [Club France], which indicated a different time."

That was confirmed by time-stamped images that showed the group exiting the club at 5:48am that morning.

TIMELINE

The following is a timeline of the closed-circuit video obtained from a Rio De Janeiro gas station at the center of a scandal over U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte's claims that he and three other swimmers were robbed.

Rio police said Thursday that they were not robbed, and instead vandalized a gas station bathroom, and that the camera footage helped prove it.

The incident occurred early Sunday morning as the athletes headed back to the Olympic village from a party after the final swimming competition.

6:06 a.m.: A cab carrying one of the swimmers pulls up next to some gas pumps. He gets out. At around the same time, on a different camera, another swimmer can be seen heading down an alley near the gas station bathroom. At one point, one of the swimmers pulls a sign off of a wall in the alley and drops it on the ground.
6:08 a.m.: All four swimmers are seen leaving the alleyway as several gas station workers gather round.
6:09 a.m.: The swimmers get back in the cab. Two uniformed attendants and two other men approach the taxi. One man leans in to speak with the occupants. He walks away and then returns and makes a phone call. Cars come and go and a few customers mull about.
6:12 a.m.: With the one man still on the phone, the four swimmers get back out of the cab and walk toward the workers. One of the athletes pulls something from his pocket and tries to give it to the man on the phone.
6:13 a.m.: The cab pulls out, leaving the swimmers at the gas station with the workers. The swimmers appear again on another camera back near the alley. A worker picks up the damaged sign and carries it away.
6:15 a.m.: The swimmers can be seen sitting on the pavement as a worker behind them walks by to pick up two canisters. After a few minutes, the swimmers exchange words with another man and appear to hand something over to him, and, at 6:17, they walk away. A worker comes by, sweeping, as another walks by again with canisters.

-AP

- Daily Mail

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