Four Years in Prison for Man Who Ripped Off Tim Duncan

A prominent former hedge fund manager today was sentenced to four years in prison by a federal judge in San Antonio for for defrauding prominent former NBA star Tim Duncan out of several million dollars by convincing him to make loans to a shell company he created, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Charles Banks, 49, a co founder of Terroir Capital and a major player in the Napa Valley wine industry, pled guilty to wire fraud in April, but asked U.S. District Judge Fred Biery to grant him probation.

Banks was also ordered to repay $7.5 million to Duncan, who retired last year after a 19 year career in the NBA, all with the San Antonio Spurs.

Banks could have gotten up to twenty years in prison.  

In a brief statement before sentencing, Banks apologized to Duncan for 'breaking his trust,' by tricking him into agreeing to loans to a failing sports merchandise company, much of the money was pocketed by Banks as 'fees.'

During the day and a half long sentencing hearing, Wendy Kowalik, a San Antonio financial planner, testified that when Duncan was getting divorced in 2013, his divorce lawyer hired her to examine his assets preparatory to a separation of property.

Kowalik testified that the numbers didn't add up, and Banks was 'evasive' about giving her an explanation for the discrepancy.

Prosecutors said Banks would trick Duncan into signing off on the loans, once peppering him with text messages demanding money just before the start of a game in the 2013 NBA Finals.

In a statement read into the record by one of the federal prosecutors, Duncan urged Biery to reject Banks' request for probation.

"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," Duncan said.  "I hate it and am embarrassed by it more than you can imagine." 

Duncan said he was afraid that, without a strong sentence, financial advisers would feel they were free to prey on young, impressionable, and suddenly very wealthy, pro athletes.

"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 bad happens to you if its the first time you get caught."

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