Jeff Benedict published his first book – Public Heroes, Private Felons: Athletes and Crimes Against Women – during his first year of law school in 1997. At the time he was interning in the District Attorney’s Child Abuse Unit in Boston and planning on becoming a prosecutor. By the time he earned his law degree in 2000, he had published three more books: Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL (Warner Books, 1998); Athletes and Acquaintance Rape (Sage Publications, 1998); and Without Reservation: How a Controversial Indian Tribe Rose to Power and Built the World’s Largest Casino (HarperCollins, 2000). By then he’d decided to be a writer instead of a lawyer.
His books on athletes and crime established him as the national expert on the subject. Plus, he was the lead researcher on two groundbreaking studies conducted at Northeastern University – one on student-athletes and violence against women and one on arrest and conviction rates for athletes. In addition to being a regular analyst on network and cable news programs, Benedict served as an expert witness on behalf of rape and domestic violence victims; consulted for law firms representing victims of violence committed by athletes; and frequently appeared as a keynote speaker for women’s organizations, victim advocacy groups and law enforcement conferences.
But his revelatory book on the world’s largest Indian casino took him in another direction. Without Reservation questioned the legitimacy of the country’s most powerful Indian tribe, prompting calls for a Congressional investigation and contributing to the defeat of a 20-year member of Congress that had helped the tribe obtain federal recognition. Benedict’s book became the subject of a 60 Minutes segment and he went on to run for U.S Congress in the district where the tribe and its casino – Foxwoods – are located. His platform was built on reigning in the casino industry. Despite earning the support of the Wall Street Journal, Benedict fell short of capturing the Democratic nomination.
Instead he formed the nation’s first statewide non-profit corporation dedicated to stopping casino expansion. As president of The Connecticut Alliance Against Casino Expansion, he partnered with Connecticut’s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and helped draft landmark legislation that outlawed any additional casinos in Connecticut. In 2004 Benedict testified against Donald Trump and other casino moguls before the House Committee on Government Reform as part a congressional investigation into the undue influence of money and lobbyists on the tribal recognition process.
At the same time, Benedict kept writing. In 2005 he conducted a six-month investigation into the negative social and economic impacts of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods – currently the two largest casinos in the world – and published his findings in a 2-part series Raw Deal and Losing Hand in the Hartford Courant. He also testified before the Massachusetts legislature and the Philadelphia City Council in opposition to proposals to embrace casino gambling as an economic stimulus. He served as an advisor to municipalities and grassroots organizations throughout the country. The press dubbed him ‘Consultant to the Stars’ after he was hired to help David Crosby, Bo Derek, Elton John’s longtime songwriter Bernie Taupin and others oppose plans to expand the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California. He also helped draft musician David Crosby's testimony before the U.S. Senate’s Indian Affairs Committee.
Benedict has written five other highly acclaimed books on a wide range of topics. His book No Bone Unturned: The Adventures of a Top Smithsonian Forensic Scientist and the Legal Battle for America’s Oldest Skeletons (HarperCollins, 2003) was the basis of a Discovery Channel documentary and was the subject of ABC News 20/20 segment. On the heels of Kobe Bryant’s arrest on rape charges in Colorado, Benedict published Out of Bounds: Inside the NBA’s Culture of Rape, Violence & Crime (HarperCollins, 2004), which was the basis of a 2-part special on ABC News 20/20 also titled ‘Out of Bounds.’ During pre-trial proceedings in the Kobe Bryant case, Benedict got access to sealed court documents and medical records that became the basis of three stories he wrote about the case for Sports Illustrated. After Bryant’s case was dismissed, Benedict wrote an award winning page-one story for the Los Angeles Times that revealed why the case fell apart.
In 2007 Benedict published The Mormon Way of Doing Business: How Eight Western Boys Reached the Top of Corporate America (Warner Business Books). It was based on interviews with the CEOs at JetBlue Airways, Madison Square Garden, Dell, and Deloitte & Touche, along with the CFO of American Express and the dean of Harvard Business School. Benedict also wrote and co-produced his first television documentary based on the book. It aired on BYUtv and on the PBS and CBS affiliates in Utah. He produced television commercials with Glenn Beck to promote the short film. After the release of the book and the film, Benedict teamed up with the executives he had profiled for a series of leadership forums at Yale, Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, and Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business.
In 2009, Benedict released Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage (Grand Central Publishing). He spent three years chronicling the eminent domain battle in Kelo v. New London, considered the most controversial Supreme Court decision since Roe v. Wade. The book received universal praise: "a fascinating narrative" (New York Times Book Review); "an absorbing read" (Wall Street Journal); and "a mind-blowing story" (NPR's Diane Rehm). In 2011, Lifetime optioned the book for a movie.
Also in 2009 Benedict was commissioned to write a book on a company that Warren Buffett purchased for $200 million. A few years later it was worth over $1 billion. How to Build a Business Warren Buffett Would Buy: The RC Willey Story (Shadow Mountain). In 2011 Benedict produced a one-hour television documentary for BYUtv based on the book.
Today Benedict is a contributor for Sports Illustrated and a writer for SI.com. In 2011 Benedict launched Inspire Books, his own book publishing imprint. He published Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the way Americans Eat under the new imprint. Poisoned is Benedict's tenth book and critics consider it his best. The New York Times called it "the full literary experience of a medico-legal thriller in a work of nonfiction."
Jeff Benedict was born in 1966 in New London, Connecticut. He has a Bachelor's in History from Eastern Connecticut State University, a Master's in Political Science from Northeastern University, and a J.D. from the New England School of Law. He previously practiced law in Connecticut, where he has spent most of his life. Today he lives in Virginia where he teaches Writing and Mass Media at Southern Virginia University and lives on a Civil War-era farm with his wife and best friend Lydia Benedict and their four children.