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Swimmer Ryan Lochte, embroiled in an international scandal over his story of being robbed at gunpoint at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, has enlisted the help of a top crisis publicist with ties to the worlds of entertainment, sports and politics.
Matthew Hiltzik, a New York-based communications consultant whose clients have included Justin Bieber, Harvey Weinstein, the NFL’s Manti Te’o, Katie Couric and Alec Baldwin, joined Lochte’s team of representatives in the past 24 hours.
Reached by phone, Hiltzik confirmed the representation but declined to comment on Lochte or the specifics of the case.
The move comes as police in Rio recommended Thursday that Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist and former E! reality TV star, and fellow U.S. swimmer James Feigen face possible charges of false reporting of a crime. Rio police claim Lochte, Feigen and two other U.S. swimmers — Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz — were not telling the truth when they said they were held up at gunpoint and robbed. Police say Lochte and Co. instead vandalized a gas station bathroom and engaged in an altercation with a security guard while returning to the Olympic Village from a late-night party.
Lochte’s lawyer, Ft. Lauderdale-based Jeffrey Ostrow, has denied Lochte lied to police. Lochte, 32, has returned to the U.S. as the unfolding drama continues to take center stage in the final days of the Rio Olympics. The swimmer has so far taken a beating in the international press, so it’s no surprise he has brought in a media specialist to help handle the crisis.
Like Lochte, Hiltzik bridges the worlds of sports and entertainment. In addition to his Hollywood clients, he represents several sports leagues and franchises, and handled Ryan Braun when the MLB slugger was accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Hiltzik, a licensed attorney, also has worked in New York state politics (he maintains ties in government circles).
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