FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CN) – Retired NBA star and dabbler in international diplomacy Dennis Rodman is turning to a Florida court to recoup riches stolen by his money manager, who conned him and other athletes into believing she was a Harvard-educated investment ace committed to safeguarding their savings.
Peggy Ann Fulford purportedly told Rodman, a five-time National Basketball Association champion, that she made a fortune on Wall Street and was so well-off that she would manage his money out of the goodness of her heart, without charging a fee.
She led Rodman to believe she had graduated from Harvard Business School and would dutifully handle his bills while making lucrative investments for him, according to court documents.
It was all a lie, a “fairytale” that she recited to Rodman to get him to entrust millions of dollars to her, Rodman says in his fraud lawsuit filed Tuesday in Broward County Circuit Court.
Rodman – represented in the case by Bradford Cohen of Cohen & McMullen – ultimately gave Fulford unfettered access to his money in a few well-funded bank accounts. Rodman says she made off with $1.86 million from the accounts between 2010 and early 2015, and that his total losses exceed $2 million.
The Chicago Bulls champ, who played alongside Michael Jordan in the 1990s, claims he remained in the dark about Fulford’s deceit until the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas filed criminal charges against her in December 2016.
Rodman was one of several athletes who were defrauded by Fulford. NBA player Travis Best and former Miami Dolphins running backs Errick “Ricky” Williams and Lex Hilliard also lost money they entrusted to her.
From 2001 to 2014, she obtained and misappropriated at least $3.5 million from the athletes, according to the Texas indictment.
A federal prosecutor told Courthouse News that the criminal case has not yet yielded a monetary recovery. She pointed to the indictment, in which Fulford is accused of spending the athletes’ money on luxury cars, real estate, jewelry and airline tickets.
“She has not paid any money back to the victims,” the prosecutor said. “So far we got zero.”
Fulford pleaded guilty to a count of interstate transportation of stolen property as part of a deal with prosecutors in February 2018.
A federal judge in Texas apparently did not grant her much leniency. She was sentenced to the statutory maximum of 10 years.
Williams had a federal lawsuit pending against her over the fraud, but dropped the case without prejudice. His attorney did not respond Thursday to a request for comment on the status of that action.
While Fulford was out on bond, she allegedly managed to swindle another victim out of $25,000 in an investment scam, using one of her many aliases.
Rodman asserts claims for conversion, fraud, unjust enrichment and breach of fiduciary duty. He also wants a constructive trust imposed over King Management Group and Associates LLC and the Georgia company Premier Financial Management Inc., two entities through which Rodman says Fulford funneled the stolen money.
Rodman has the second-most rebounding titles in NBA history. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
More recently, he has made headlines for trips to North Korea to host basketball exhibitions and meet with the country’s leader Kim Jong-un, whom he once called “a friend for life.”
He visited the country in June 2018 around the time of the North Korea-U.S. summit, though he was not officially part of the proceedings.