The founder and managing director of the National Basketball Players Association's former financial firm has been charged with attempting to defraud the union of $3 million by forging the signature of a dead man, federal prosecutors said Thursday. Joseph Lombardo, 72, the founder and director of Prim Capital, is accused of forging the signature of late union general counsel Gary Hall on a purported 2011 service agreement that called for the NBPA to pay the firm $3.01 million over five years, prosecutors said. The mystery surrounding the alleged contract was one of many issues raised in an exhaustive review of former union chief Billy Hunter's leadership and governance published in January by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. The report concluded that Hunter had used poor judgment, failed to properly manage conflicts of interest, put his personal gain ahead of the interests of the union and failed to have his own employment contract properly approved by the board of player representatives. Hunter, 70, was ousted by a newly elected executive committee of the NBPA in February and remains under the scrutiny of a federal criminal investigation. Before his ouster, Hunter announced that the union was severing ties with Prim Capital and that he was firing his daughter and daughter-in-law from the union staff. On Thursday, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced that Lombardo has been charged with attempted wire fraud, attempted mail fraud and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to a grand jury. Carolyn Kaufman, 72, a Prim director, also has been charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to a grand jury, prosecutors said. During its nine-month review of the NBPA's finances and business practices under Hunter, the Paul-Weiss firm was furnished a copy of a 2005 service agreement between Prim -- where Hunter's son, Todd, is a director -- and the union. Hunter and all other parties interviewed for the report stated that the 2005 document was the only written agreement between the NBPA and Prim, and that the agreement had been extended verbally over the years, the report said. Two days before the Paul-Weiss report was released, Prim provided an additional document to the law firm's investigators: a letter dated Feb. 24, 2011 detailing an agreement by which Prim would provide financial services to the union for five years at an annual rate of $602,000. The letter caught the attention of Paul-Weiss investigators because its existence had not previously been disclosed; because it was not signed by Hunter, as the 2005 contract had been; and because it contained an unusual provision stating that the agreement "cannot be canceled or revoked while in effect for any reason by the NBPA."
Feds: Head of NBPA's financial firm tried to defraud union of $3 million
Published On: Apr 26 2013 01:23:41 PM EDT Updated On: Apr 26 2013 01:23:42 PM EDT
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