Abe Pollin lent the Washinton Capitals more than $13.3 million in fiscal years 1979-82 while declining to ask his partners to invest more money in the hockey team, the comptroller of the Capitals and Capital Centre testified in Prince George's Circuit Court yesterday.
A call to the partners would have covered almost $2.9 million of the loan, testimony said.
Edmund Stelzer, the comptroller, also said that Pollin, general partner of the Centre and principal owner of the Capitals and Washington Bullets, withdrew $725,000 from the hockey team in June 1982, the same month he established adjustments in license agreements between the arena and the teams. Those adjustments in effect returned more than $860,000 from the profit-making Centre to the financially struggling Bullets and Capitals.
Stelzer testified at the beginning of the fourth week of a trial involving Pollin and Arnold Heft, a limited partner in Capital Centre. Heft contends in a civil suit that Pollin secretly and unilaterally made the adjustments; he asks that the adjustments be rescinded and an accounting of their effect be made.
In testimony Thursday, Stelzer said the Centre had a net profit of $8.6 million dating from its opening in 1973 to June 30, 1984. From 1974 to 1984, he said, the Capitals had cash losses of about $22.8 million and net losses of $27.7 million.
Under cross-examination yesterday by Stephen Grafman, one of Heft's attorneys, Stelzer quoted from documents introduced last week that said Pollin lent the team $2,840,000 in fiscal year 1979. Noting Pollin's share of the Capitals was 77.65 percent, Grafman asked what share of the $2.8 million the teams' limited partners would have paid had there been a cash call. (A cash call is a request to partners for funds, based on the percentage of their interest in an enterprise. If partners do not meet the call, they lose their share in the enterprise.(
Stelzer said it would have been a total of about $600,000, shared by all the remaining partners.
The following fiscal year, Stelzer said, Pollin lent the team $3,722,000. A cash call would have produced about $800,000, Stelzer said.
In fiscal year 1981, he said, a cash call would have covered about $790,000 of the $3,602,500 Pollin lent the Capitals. The following year, a cash call would have raised about $700,000 of the approximately $3.2 million lent to the team by Pollin, Stelzer testified.
Earlier testimony revealed that Pollin made cash calls in fiscal years 1975 and 1976. On April 9, Jerry Sachs, president of Capital Centre, testified that Pollin did not make a cash call to his partners in June 1982 because he was ''embarrassed, concerned and terribly reluctant to ask anyone for help.''
Sachs said then that Pollin had allowed some friends and associates to become partners in the Capitals as a way of ''giving them a chance to invest in a very profitable entity.'' Sachs noted, ''What was supposed to be a sensational investment turned absolutely sour.''
Regrading Pollin's withdrawal of $725,000 from the Capitals, Grafman introduced as evidence copies of two checks. One was drawn up June 18, 1982, for $425,000 and the other was written 12 days later for $300,000, Stelzer testified. Stelzer said Pollin signed the checks himself. There was no testimony to indicate the purpose of the checks.
Earlier yesterday, attorneys for Pollin attempted to introduce documents they said showed some of the 1982 adjustments still favored Capital Centre at the expense of the teams. Sachs and Pollin's attorneys have maintained the adjustments were made because the agreements had hurt the teams for years and it was a matter of ''righting a wrong.''
Judge Albert T. Blackwell Jr. sustained objections by Grafman that documents pertaining to the reduction of the teams' payment of rent money to the arena from 15 to 10 percent were not relevant to the case, as well as his objections to documents regarding an adjustment in box-office fees.
Pollin's attorneys also introduced documents showing that Capital Centre had given Cellar Door Productions, a major promotr of rock concerts at the arena and elsewhere, more than $1.5 million in short-term, interest-free loans from 1977 to Aug. 30, 1984.
In testimony earlier in the trial, it was revealed that on three occasions, Capital Centre had given the teams interest-free loans shortly after the Bullets and Capitals had made payments to the arena. Pollin's attorneys said yesterday they were attempting to establish that the arena often made interest-free loans and was acting ''fairly and reasonably'' in doing so.