AKRON, Ohio (CN) – A fundraiser, event organizer and political hopeful says representatives with the LeBron James Family Foundation trumped up bogus charges of theft against him in an attempt to ruin his reputation.
DeAndre Forney says he started working as a volunteer with the basketball player’s Cleveland-based foundation from November 2007 to May 2008, where he helped organize and plan several events.
After planning an event for underprivileged children, Forney says vendors, who were pre-paid and otherwise promised to be paid by Forney, demanded payment from James’ foundation.
James’ organization then paid the bills and told unpaid vendors not to accept any payment from Forney, the fundraiser claims in Summit County Court..
They sent a letter to businesses and individuals throughout Northeast Ohio “from whom Forney had sought charitable funds” that “accused Forney of theft and asked the recipients not to do any business with Forney.”
The organization’s representatives also contacted a company for which Forney was organizing an event, and falsely told them that Forney used the foundation’s letterhead for the invitation to an event, and that they shouldn’t trust him, according to the lawsuit.
Then, in August 2008, organization officials allegedly sought to have Forney removed as a delegate for Barack Obama at the National Democratic Convention in Denver.
After learning from the DNC that all it would take is a police report against Forney to bar him from the event, Forney claims the organization’s officials filed a formal criminal complaint against him for theft, a felony, of $12,818.
An arrest warrant was issued, and Forney turned himself in in September 2010. He was later exonerated.
“Despite the acquittal, Forney is subject to harassment and accusations that he is a criminal, that he spent time in jail, and that he is generally untrustworthy,” according to the complaint. “He has been depressed and unable to enjoy life” and has incurred attorneys fees defending himself against criminal prosecution.
He seeks at least $75,000 in compensatory and punitive damages for malicious prosecution, abuse of process and breach of contract, among other things.
Forney is represented by Robert Palmer.