A lawsuit alleges that Reese Riemer, shown here at the The RFD-TV American rodeo in 2015, agreed to split his reward with two other competitors after winning the tie-down event. (Star-Telegram/ Richard W. Rodriguez) Richard W. Rodriguez Star-Telegram
BY RYAN OSBORNE
Two star calf ropers are accused of rigging a lucrative rodeo at AT&T Stadium last year to guarantee themselves a cut of a possible $1 million prize, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Tarrant County civil court.
Tuf Cooper, 26, a three-time world champion from Decatur, and Timber Moore, 30, the current top-ranked roper in the world, are being sued by RFD-TV Events, which promoted and hosted The American Rodeo in Arlington on March 1, 2015.
The one-day event offered prizes of $100,000 for winners of seven competitions. But it also featured a bonus reward for cowboys who qualified for the event rather than being invited.
A qualifier was eligible to earn up to $1 million from a “side pot” for winning any of the seven events, according to the lawsuit.
RFD-TV alleged that Cooper and Moore, who were invited to the tie-down roping competition, agreed with Reese Riemer, a qualifier, to “intentionally perform poorly” so that Riemer would have a chance to win the bigger prize.
In exchange for the “fix,” according to the lawsuit, Riemer would split his winnings with Cooper and Moore. Another competitor declined to participate in “the scheme,” the lawsuit says.
The cowboys, according to the lawsuit, agreed to carry out the plan in the finals of the competition after the field had been cut from 17 ropers to four.
Riemer ended up winning the event, with Cooper finishing second and Moore finishing third.
As a result, the lawsuit says, Riemer won $100,000 for first place and $417,000 as part of the bonus reward available to qualifiers. He received only a share of the $1 million bonus because two other qualifiers won events at the rodeo.
The rodeo, according to the lawsuit, soon “learned of the scheme devised by Riemer, Cooper and Moore” and stopped payment on Riemer’s winning check of $517,000.
Cooper, though, “obtained and holds money and other assets” earned at the rodeo, the lawsuit says. He would have earned $25,000 for finishing in second place, according to the competition rules.
RFD-TV Events seeks “monetary relief of $100,000 or less” from Cooper and Moore.
Neither the calf ropers nor attorneys for RFD-TV Events could be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.
Moore, of Aubrey, is the top tie-down earner in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association this year with about $88,000 in winnings.
Cooper earned about $211,000 on the PRCA circuit last year—and more than $1.6 million in his career— before joining the Elite Rodeo Athletes tour this year. He competed in The American Rodeo again this year but didn’t make the finals.
Cooper drew attention last summer when a Canadian rodeo disqualified him for “mistreatment of livestock,” CBC News in Calgary reported. Cooper, according to the rodeo officials there, “repeatedly and aggressively” used his rope on his horse during a run.
Update.....More on this story from WFAA.com & PepperStewart.com...
Lawsuit alleges fraud in rodeo at AT&T Stadium
Star calf ropers accused of rigging rodeo
Lauren Zakalik, WFAA 7:28 PM. CDT August 10, 2016
FORT WORTH -- On its public YouTube account and its website, RFD-TV, a rural farming cable channel, has posted videos showing Texas cowboy Reese Riemer winning the tie-down calf-roping segment of the American Rodeo at AT&T Stadium in March 2015.
Watch this story here: http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/tarrant-county/lawsuit-alleges-fraud-in-calf-roping-rodeo/293707096
"Life-changing for me," Riemer said about his win at the time. "Words can't express."
It's a win the TV station is now calling a "scheme" in a lawsuit it recently filed in Tarrant County against well-known North Texas rodeo stars Tuf Cooper and Timber Moore, who also competed at the American.
Reese Riemer is interviewed by RFD-TV after his win. (Photo: Courtesy - RFD-TV)
"With these high-profile guys, it's mostly shock. It's a big shock to the rodeo community," said Pepper Stewart, who hosts an Internet talk show about rodeos and country life.
The lawsuit alleges Cooper and Moore agreed to intentionally perform poorly so Riemer would win, and the three would split Riemer's monetary award. Riemer stood to win hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the other two, the lawsuit says, because he had to qualify to be at the rodeo, unlike the others, who were invited to participate.
News 8 is still waiting on calls and emails back from all of the cowboys involved, as well as Riemer's attorney.
Gregory Shamoun, attorney for RFD TV, is calling for the cowboys to apologize to the co-competitors of the event.
"We are greatly disturbed by this illegal act, and feel it’s our duty to assure the upcoming American Rodeo events are not fraught with this type of unprofessional and illegal conduct," Shamoun said in a phone conversation Wednesday.
RFD TV's lawsuit says another cowboy was invited to participate in the deal, but he declined. Shamoun says he's the person who came forward about all of this.
We briefly spoke to him on the phone Wednesday, but he asked us to call back in thirty minutes for a conversation. We did, but he never answered, nor called us back.
Pepper Stewart (Photo: WFAA)
Pepper Stewart, who has interviewed Tuf Cooper on his talk show, says there are many in the rodeo community who are doubting what's alleged to have happened. Others believe the allegations.
"When you think of the players involved in this -- and these are top, world-champion guys -- it's just out of character," Stewart said.
And they'll watch anxiously as the drama moves from the arena to the courtroom.