The Sacramento Kings have been the subjects of many headlines for the wrong reasons over the years. From relocation dramas to strange coaching moves, bad trades and baffling draft decisions, the Kings are no strangers to being the butt of jokes. A recent story about a former employee of the organization, however, may take the cake as the strangest thing to come out of the Kings’ recent history.
Scandals in the NBA, beyond the Kings
The NBA is no stranger to scandals. Not long ago, a scandal involving the team allegedly hiding allegations of abuse and harassment by its employees sullied Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks. The New York Knicks were forced to pay $11.6 million to a former employee after allegations of sexual harassment within the organization were found to be credible.
How Jeff David set up the Kings
The story was reported in-depth by Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN and involved a former employee named Jeff David. David was a chief revenue officer with the Sacramento Kings, and as such, he was responsible for lots of branding and advertising opportunities that came with running a basketball team.
David worked with the richest of the rich in terms of clientele, securing funds and branding rights from credit unions, food franchises, and other deep-pocketed organizations around the Sacramento area.
Because he was involved with such a significant piece of the financial side of things, he had a paper trail of many of his business transactions. He left the Kings after the team told him that they eliminated his position, but he landed a similar job with the Miami Heat, and that was when his troubles began to stack up.
The scheme that netted millions of dollars — illegally
With David out of the picture, a former co-worker named Stacy Wegzyn entered it. Wegzyn, a human resources employee for the Kings, was the one to tell David that he had been let go, and she was going through an old work computer of his when she came to a folder called “TurboTax” with references to an entity called Sacramento Sports Partners. David assured her that she could delete these files, as they were no longer relevant to anything he was doing, and had she done that, he may have gotten away with his crime.
Before long, the FBI was at David’s door under the guise that he might have been the victim of fraud. What had happened, however, was that David got caught playing the system and exploiting his old job for personal benefit. It involved David asking for small, but still lucrative amounts of money from the partners when they transferred funds. He had been skimming money off of the top of his dealings with the big clients in Sacramento and using it to get his investments off the ground.
The Kings’ stolen money was eventually used to purchase an $8 million property in Los Angeles, money David claims he was always going to pay back. After he was caught, David, spoke as though he were going to be able to talk his way out of it not only to his family but to the FBI agents and the Kings’ workers he had been in communication with.
The Kings got the last laugh in this saga
The FBI eventually froze all of David’s assets, and the Heat fired him. He eventually pled guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges and was sentenced to seven years in prison for stealing $13.4 million from the Kings. In an ironic twist, the Kings got to sell the property that David bought and turned a profit in the process.
The David incident is a captivating and strange look at the business side of sports, and while the fallout is still recent, it will be fascinating to follow up on in the future.