After almost two years of legal wrangling, Cleveland “The Truth” Thomas, winner of the ill-fated Cronus Pro Natural Bodybuilding Contest in 2011, was awarded judgment in a Texas courtroom against promoters Jason Powell, his wife Stephanie-Lee “Kai” Miranda (Powell), and their company REAL (Real Entertainment Athletes Leaders), LLC, in the amount of $10,000 plus court costs and interest for the prize money that was denied him after winning the event.
The natural bodybuilding community will remember that Thomas was declared the champion of the “winner takes all” contest on August 20, 2011, at the Stafford Centre Performing Arts Theatre and Convention Center in Stafford, TX. When promoters reneged on payment of the record-setting prize money of $10,000, Thomas was forced to take legal action to procure his winnings.
Thomas was officially disqualified as the winner on December 27, 2011 – more than four months after the contest – allegedly attributed to his “direct violation of the ‘Professional Athlete Agreement’ on numerous points.” The promoters implied early on that Cleveland had not passed his drug test, but they offered no evidence to support their claim.
Indeed, according to Thomas’s attorney, Angelique Montes, “At no point did defendants attempt to argue or even mention before the court anything regarding the results of a drug test – not even after multiple requests made not only by me but also by the court. However, when the issue did come up at various stages of the case, defendants provided different and inconsistent responses almost every time. Defendants did not provide any evidence that a drug test was ever properly administered nor any evidence indicating any urine samples were even sent to a lab for testing.”
“Defendants gave very different and inconsistent reasons of why they did not pay the prize money owed to Mr. Thomas,” says Montes. “At trial, they had absolutely no legal defense, and the court concurred.”
Thomas had earlier entered into a settlement where the defendants were to pay him $5,000. However, after defendants paid $2,500 of the agreed amount, they apparently decided not to pay the rest. Evidence provided to the court clearly showed that defendants’ nonpayment of the remaining balance was not only a breach but a breach in bad faith with malicious intent and, therefore, the court agreed to hear the original case on the merits.
Generally, when a settlement has been reached between parties, and one party breaches the settlement agreement, a court will only adjudicate the breach of the settlement agreement claim. However, after each side had an opportunity to present its arguments and evidence, the judge awarded a judgment in favor of the plaintiff Thomas whereby defendants are to pay Thomas $10,000.00 plus court costs plus interest in addition to the $2,500 he had already received.
The trial took place on July 18, 2013, in Small Claims Court of Harris County, Texas; Precinct 7, Place 1 located at 5737 Cullen Street in Houston, and judgment became final on or about July 29, 2013.
The main concern, according to Montes: "Will the defendants ever actually pay the money?
Only time will tell whether the Powells and their company have the integrity to meet their legal obligation. Either way, “The Truth” has prevailed, but it would be nice to see the champ ultimately receive his prize money and not just a moral victory.