*Cue the music from Unsolved Mysteries*
As I've been delving back into this project, I know I'm going to have to do some searching. And so one major mystery to me has been former referee Majid Jay, card #166 in the 1990-91 Pacific set.
All the referees in that set have signed for me: Esse Baharmast, Brian Hall, Gino D'Ippolito, Marty Templin, Herb Silva, Kelly Mock... all but Majid Jay.
When I wrote to Hall, he told me that no one knows where Jay is now.
Searches for him mostly bring up this card, MISL boxscores, the fact he officiated the 1990 CONCACAF Champions Cup, the 1991-1993 Gold Cups, and at least one 1991 NCAA game (a Cal State Fullerton vs. UNLV game that ended in a brawl). He was even listed on the United States Soccer Federation's Referee Honor Roll from 1989-1993, representing California.
Searching out addresses brought up the name Majid Abotalebi, and at least one MISL boxscore confirms this as a likely alias.
Further searching on addresses brings up that he is 64 years old (which would be approximately correct) and what appears to be a wife, Brenda M. Ortega-Abotalebi, age 71.
Now here's where the oddities begin...
The last listed address that I could dig up on Majid Jay was in Riverside, CA. This address was tested by my friend Brian, and met with a note saying "Wrong address, Please Return" and the dreaded yellow Return To Sender sticker back in early 2016. Most addresses tied to his name have been in Riverside, Corona, and Los Alamitos CA, from 1995 to 2017.
The last listed address for Ortega-Abotalebi was in Capistrano Beach, CA. Her addresses have been in California from 1989 to 2010.
The last listed address for the Abotalebi name was at a Las Vegas extended stay hotel. In fact, the previous three addresses for him were all Vegas extended-stay hotels and a PO Box, dating 2011 and 2012. Prior to being in Vegas, his is associated with addresses in Houston (2010 and 1997), Virginia (2008 and 2009), Riverside CA (2007-2011), Los Alamitos CA (1996-2002), Waco TX (1998-2000), Kirkland WA (2001), Hewitt TX (1998), Irvine CA (1989-1996), and Cypress CA (1989-1993). That's a lot of movement, and the Vegas ones are an interesting touch.
And then we get this strange comment dating back to 2002: "Call the university to verify; I am no Majid Jay."
Is this a fraud allegation of some sort? For no one to question the Jay comment makes it seems like there's something widely known about him that I'm missing. And I can't ask the person who said it: Robert Evans died in 2016.
Digging further, it appears he (or someone with his name) was arrested in Clark County, NV in February 2012: Burglary with intent to commit a felony, and possession or sale of false identification.
Alright, help me out here. I can find no record of Jay's involvement in soccer post-April 1993 or in anything at all post-2012. Most in this project I can find info on-- current jobs, addresses, places they're coaching. Even those who are deceased, I can typically find their date of death and place of burial. But aside from a string of seemingly unconnected addresses, some associated names, a fairly low-level arrest, and a previously unknown-to-me alias, Majid Jay has completely disappeared.
It's just... bizarre. I'm at a loss here. And I say that as one who was able to find Nenad Nikolic's death that it seemed no one knew about, and have been praised for my ability to find the whereabouts of a lot of players that no one else could track down.
I've reached out to the BigSoccer forum linked above, and was simply told there's "way too much to go into here." Egad man! Inquiring minds want to know!
If you have any information (or if any of the above is factually incorrect), leave a comment here. I'm intrigued, to say the least.
JULY 27, 2019, 10:30 PM: I was messaged by a member of a soccer forum with some information and the whole situation sounds almost Dolly Gray or Byron McLaughlin-esque; I just would prefer not to have to pull a Dave Cameron to get my cards signed (I tried to link to the Cameron story but it's in a Facebook group and the post is set to Members Only; I'll post it as a comment).
JUNE 18, 2020, 12:25 PM: He did indeed legally change his surname from Abotalebi to Jay. This name change, as the link shows, came up again in 2008 and 2013. I still am lacking information on him and my aforementioned forum source never responded with more. I plan to reach out to him again soon.
JULY 28, 2020, 4:29 PM: I have been in contact with two former referees, one of whom seemed insistent on Jay being deceased, saying "he was killed years ago, virtually 100% sure." The other said that Jay is alive, living in California, and either he or an associate of his has spoken to him recently, but also that Jay himself said he can't sign my card (not sure of the reasoning-- whether physical ability or just something related to not wanting to be found). I have also been communicating again with the forum source, but we have agreed that anything that he tells me will remain silent and not posted here. Several pieces from the forum source were corroborated by the referee though, without me even having to ask-- he just dropped some of that info himself.
MAY 28, 2021, 7:55 PM: My forum source has gone radio silent for several months now. I've pretty well given up on getting the whole story here.
AUGUST 9, 2021, 3:22 PM: My attempt at mailing the last known address for his (possible) wife ended with my letter returned from Fiduciary Real Estate Services, and a note that he did not live there. I also found some info back in May that he (under the Jay surname) was a registered flight instructor in Las Vegas through 2015. I have seen Vegas addresses for him, but they appeared fairly temporary (a hotel and a mailbox rental) so I didn't try them. Ditto on most recent California addresses.
This is the Dave Cameron-Byron McLaughlin story from Cameron himself, as he posted to the Facebook group "Baseball TTM Autographs" on January 23, 2017...ReplyDelete
MY SEARCH FOR BYRON McLAUGHLIN:
Working on getting signed sets leads one into traveling in strange directions and filling in the 1984 Topps set may have topped them all. That was the year in which Topps printed a card of Byron McLaughlin who had played for the Angels in parts of 1983 but in the off season he was arrested for the bulk sale of cocaine. From what I was to later learn from Byron, he never, ever, used drugs and only sold cocaine in order to make money. He also told me that his family connection lead to bribing a very well known democratic politician in northern California in order to get his arrest virtually erased and he even got things so that he needn't report to a parole officer.
Anyway, when his court hearing for the cocaine sale came up I made it a point to drive some 60 miles to the courtroom on the chance that his lawyer might appear. I went but neither Byron or any representative was present. Dressed in my most expensive suit I walked to the court docket office and asked for the file on McLaughlin. Are you from such-and-such's office, I was asked, and of course I replied yes even though I had no idea who she was talking about. I was handed the entire file and I went through the whole thing page by page in order to get every clue I could find. From the information in the files I was eventually able to locate his mother, brother, and ex-wife, and I spoke with each, and on a few occasions. I left my contact information with each as well.
Months later I received a late night Sunday phone call and the harsh voice said "My name is Byron McLaughlin and everywhere I turn I see your name. Who the fuck are you and what do you want?" We spoke on the phone and made an early morning appointment to meet the next day. Not knowing if I was to be killed or not I called my friend John to accompany me without explaining why. The next morning I met up with John and drove us to the appointed site, a coffee shop in Pacific Palisades and we both spotted Byron sitting at an outside table.
We spoke for over and hour and he signed several of his 84 Topps cards for me. I also gave him the money information I had discovered during my lengthy search which was that the Topps chewing gum company owed Byron money for his Topps cards but never had a proper address for him. This is likely what got me in the door to see him. Byron called me the greatest detective ever as I had his trail through Mexico as well as Southern California while, according to Byron, the FBI was lost. He asked me for some help in locating someone and an hour later I had that information and he and I then went on with a friendship for the next few years, ending in 1988 or 89.
I learned that Byron was a money man and lived to make it big. He hated to travel and even sent me to Korea in order to locate the people who turned out to be his shoe manufacturers for which he as later placed on Interpol watch lists. I had no knowledge of this at the time. I knew his French girlfriend while they lived together in Santa Monica and with whom Byron quickly married while they were in France which prevented him from the U.S. extradition requests.
During the 90's Byron's family asked my help in locating him again but his trail is again cold although I believe he is back in Mexico and I do know that neither of his first two ex-wives know where he is. The signed 1984 Topps card of Byron is probably the rarest of any living player (exempting those who hold out for charity or some other reason) since Topps began production. I have seen some PSA slabbed examples which are complete forgeries and have no more of this particular card available.