Not everyone in Manti Te’o’s circle was taken in by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man who allegedly scammed the trusting Notre Dame linebacker. According to the New York Post, Alema Te’o, the football players uncle, knew Tuiasosopo was a 'rat' from the moment he saw him.
Te’o claims that Tuiasosopo 'needs to be prosecuted' for duping his nephew by creating a fake girlfriend
'I know a liar when I’m around one, and Tuiasosopo was one,' Te’o said on air on The Zone Sports Network on Thursday. 'I smelled him as a bad rat from the get-go and I’m not afraid to come out and say that. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is a liar, he concocted the whole thing. He’s been lying every step of the way.'
Alema Te’o reportedly met Tuiasosopo before his nephew played against USC on November 24, 2012 and he recalled how Tuiasosopo used his 9-year-old sister in the alleged scam.
Te’o claimed that Tuiasosopo brought the young girl along to pose as a cousin of the fictional Lennay Kekua, while he tried to raise money for another imaginary friend of Kekua, who was also supposedly battling leukemia, and who could not afford to go to Stanford.
'He brought this young girl,' Te’o said. 'He said that this is the 9-year-old girl that he would speak to when he was in conversations with Lennay on the phone. This shows the character of this guy Ronaiah. He introduces her as a cousin and this girl is his little sister.
'The whole time Ronaiah is standing over her with two hands on her shoulders, almost guarding her, not letting her say a few things, not letting her speak for herself. She was used as a pawn.'
Alema Te’o believes that his footballer nephew did actually meet with a girl who was hired to play Kekua and he recalled that Manti Te’o claimed to have met Kekua in person in the past.
'I can’t help but believe that was all part of it,' Te’o said. 'I believe that it was an elaborate plan and he had a girl staged to be Lennay and have Manti see her out there and made arrangements for her to be out there. I wouldn’t put it past this guy to do that.'
Alema Te’o expressed his regret that he didn't challenge Tuiasosopo during their meeting in November after the latter man claimed to have been involved in Steelers safety Troy Polamalu’s football camp. Te'o has been running Polamalu’s football camp in American Samoa for years and he knew that Tuiasosopo never had any involvement with it.
'Knowing what I know now, I wish I would have blown that guy up then and there,' Te’o said.
The bizarre details of the alleged scam only get murkier as they're investigated. Alema Te’o told the press this week that his famous nephew had received a phone call from Kekua's number on December 26 claiming that she was not actually dead.
Te'o reportedly received the phone call on December 6 and that's when he began to suspect Kekua was a hoax. On December 26 he alerted Notre Dame officials of his suspicions, having learned that his relationship was a hoax.
Te’o’s relationship with Kekua was reported on extensively through the college football season as Notre Dame compiled a 12-0 record, before losing to Alabama in a painfully off-form performance the National Championship game.