Duncan Makes Impassioned Plea for Punishment for Former Financial Adviser

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five

After hearing himself described as a liar and a thief in a U.S. District Courtroom, the man who pled gulty to wire fraud will learn today what sentence he will have to serve for ripping off millions of dollars from retired Spurs superstar Tim Duncan, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The most damning evidence in the case of Charles Banks came from Wendy Kowalik, who heads the financial advisory firm Predico Partners and who was hired to examine Duncan's finances ahead of his 2013 divorce.

Kowalik told U.S. District Judge Fred Biery says much about Duncan's finances didn't add up.  She said the dealings Duncan had with Banks were 'arranged in a strange way,' and when she asked Banks for details he was 'evasive.'

Testimony says most of the scam centered on a sports memorabilia company Banks founded called Gameday Entertainment.  Banks is accused of convincing Duncan to sign off on million dollar loans to Gameday without telling him that the company was in financial trouble, going so far as the urge Duncan to make the investments in a flurry of text messages on the day of a critical playoff game, when Duncan was in Miami and was clearly focused on the game.

In a statement read by Duncan and obtained by 1200 WOAI's Michael Board, the retired All Star made an impassioned plea for justice:

"I took pride in being a private individual that spent time in the spotlight only because I had to, to make a living that would last me for the rest of my life.  I beat my body  up and lost precious time with my family in the pursuit of this.  I also prided myself on not being the stereotypical dumb athlete that can be easily taken advantage of.  I listened and used the lesson put in front of us young athletes by the NBA and our teams. I put together a group of individuals and companies that would keep eyes on each other and make sure I would not be another athlete sitting in this exact predicament at some point.  Over the years my group changed. My business manager moved on. My agent moved on. But in that time from 1997 to 2005, I built a trusting relationship with Charles Banks. Through those years, with legit and proven investments, he earned my trust as my financial advisor and and friend.  So I felt comfortable moving forward without replacing the checks and balances as he moved on to running his own thing.  Unfortunately I was wrong about that decision. Fast forward to the similar betrayal by my ex wife, who i also trusted, the need to pay her off in the divorce. At that time I got some of those checks and balances put back into place with my divorce lawyer, Sue Hall, and my financial consultant Wendy Kowalik.  This started the road to here.  It started with simple questions taking weeks to be answered, all starting the red flags that turned into the cluster that we see today. Things that I have learned from that point to this have been mind boggling and have literally floored me.  While in the midst of my divorce, Banks continued to bring deals to me and even went as far as asking me to start a family office, which would have put Charles's hands in control of all of my money.  If I had done that, based on the trajectory of the things that have been found, I wouldn't be standing here just worried about just my investments, but instead my career earnings.  The question has been asked what I want to see done about this. In the midst of a rant one night with Tullos (Duncan's personal attorney Tullos Wells), I asked what be the punishment for someone who did not have the same kind of access to financial means as Banks has.  Judge Biery, you may not understand how difficult it is for me to be in the public light in this horrible way, as the poster child for a dumb athlete who's financial advisor took his money. I hate it and am embarrassed by it more than you can imagine. But what I told Wendy and Tullos is that, even more than that, I hate the thought of Charles being able to do this to someone else.  Mr Surovich told me that Charles said he should be given probation or at the most a six month prison sentence.  My biggest fear is that you will give him a sentence that will allow him to go out into the world and tell everyone, as he has since his guilty plea, that he did not do anything wrong, and he proves it by having very little to no jail time.  I respectfully ask you, do not do that.  I promise you that if he has any excuse to get back into this line of business, he will be hustling and doing the same thing to others. I don't know what the right number is but it seems to me he should be sentenced for what he did and continues to do.  I see lots of kids who come in to professional sports and end up losing most of the money they make to someone like Banks.  Judge, please do not sent the message to guys like Banks that nothing really band happens to you if its the first time you get caught.  You and I both know that if some underprivileged kid or some poor kid from a rough neighborhood stole a lot less he would be going to jail for many years. I know that Banks has a lot of other people's money that he thinks he can use to lawyer his way to a slap on the wrist.  I just want the court to issue a punishment in line with the fraud that has been committed against me and other and make it clear to anyone looking to take advantage of individuals like myself, trusting athletes, that this is not acceptable and will not be tolerated."

For his part, Banks blamed the issue on Gameday management, who were trying to keep the company from spiraling into insolvency.

Banks could face up to twenty years in prison.

IMAGE: GETTY

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