NBA All-Star Claims Adviser Blew Millions
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (CNS) - Retired NBA All-Star Vincent Baker claims his financial adviser lost nearly all of his $86 million nest egg through negligent investments.
Baker signed a seven-year, $86.6 million contract with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1999. He scored 11,839 points and had 5,867 rebounds in a 14-year pro career. He was selected for four straight All-Star Games and played on the Dream Team that won gold in the 2000 Olympics.
He hired Donald S. Brodeur Jr. and Brodeur & Co. Certified Public Accountants in 1997, to manage his finances, according to his complaint in Middlesex County Court.
Brodeur & Co. (B&C) advertises its services to professional athletes on its website. A visit to the site this morning found this statement: "Over the past seventeen years, we have developed a specialization in the area of Athlete Accounting by providing accounting, tax, and advisory support to professional sports agents and athletes in the NBA, MLB, and NFL."
In his complaint, Baker says the firm agreed to provide him services "including but not limited to, a) management of Baker's money and investments, b) coordination of his professional advisors, accounting and financial services and c) otherwise 'manage' Baker's financial activities and condition."
Baker adds: "On numerous occasions between 1997 and 2009, Brodeur and B&C made overt representations to Baker concerning the appropriateness and sufficiency of their services, including statements to the effect that:
"a) 'you are being taken care of';
"b) 'I/we have everything control';
"c) 'your investments are being watched'; and
"d) don't worry, I/we have everything covered.'"
But Baker says: "During the time that Brodeur and B&C acted as Baker's manager, virtually all of Baker's earnings were spent and/or his investments lost all or nearly all of their value, such that Baker's home was foreclosed and he was forced to liquidate substantial assets for little or no value, leaving him without resources to meet his financial obligations and living expenses."
Baker claims that Brodeur and his firm breached their duties to him "through inadequate oversight and/or failure to implement systems to track sources of money and discourage fraud ... inadequate accounting ... inadequate reporting ... mismanaging Baker's assets, upon information and belief, through commingling of funds and the use of personal credit cards ... by mismanaging Baker's assets, upon information and belief, through transactions with Brodeur and B&C's manager's friends and family; and ... through transactions with Brodeur and B&C's managers, affiliates, business associated, and like entities."
The complaint cites "at least five series of transaction(s)" in which B&C alleged breached its duty to oversee and protect Baker's assets.
It cites: "a) Vinnie's Saybrook Fish House, 99 Essex Road, Old Saybrook, Connecticut, a restaurant that Brodeur/B&C oversaw development using nearly all of Baker's remaining assets; the restaurant was subsequently sold and the assets liquidated at a substantial loss to Baker.
"b) Pine Ledge Trail, Durham, Connecticut, a real estate development that Brodeur/B&C oversaw and which included Baker's home that was foreclosed upon at substantial loss to Baker;
"c) Goodwin Sports Management of Seattle, Washington, Baker's former agent, who Brodeur and B&C counseled Baker not to pay but who ultimately obtained a substantial award against Baker;
"d) Stand Tall Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity organized by Baker that Brodeur/B&C oversaw and for which, on information and belief, there are questions about the source and uses of funds; and
"e) National Sports Museum, a Baker investment that Brodeur/B&C oversaw that resulted in substantial loss to Baker."
In the Fish House deal, Baker claims that Brodeur transferred assets "for the benefit of Brodeur or ... third parties without the exchange of consideration of reasonably equivalent value. For example, on the Vinnie's Saybrook Fish House construction, it appears Baker paid management fees to three separate entities or individuals and two of them - B&C and Atlantis - are linked by their principal's other business activities: Brodeur and [nonparty Richard O.] Finnegan are business partners in Develop, and, on information in belief, family members (including Brodeur's sister) were hired to work at the restaurant."
Baker seeks an accounting and damages for negligence, misrepresentation, fraudulent transfer and breaches of contract and fiduciary duty.
He is represented by Neal Moskow with Ury and Moskow, of Fairfield.
In a brief telephone interview with Courthouse News on Tuesday, Brodeur said he could not comment on specific allegations due to the pending litigation.
Brodeur said: "I worked with Vin Baker's dad the entire course of the engagement in trying to do the most diligent job that I could for him and his family. At this point I look forward to going to court and proving mine and the firm's innocence."