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Fraud charges filed against financial advisor to NBA union

Right now, the majority of headlines concerning the National Basketball Association are dedicated to the 2013 playoffs. That is especially true here in San Antonio, where our Spurs recently shocked the sports world by sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers in four games. However, a very interesting NBA-related story is actually making headlines in another type of court -- a federal court in Manhattan to be exact.

According to reports, Joseph Lombardo, the founder and managing director of Ohio-based Prim Capital Corporation was arrested last Thursday, and charged with a multitude of white collar crimes, including attempted mail fraud, attempted wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

Federal prosecutors are accusing Lombardo of attempting to defraud the New York-based National Basketball Players Association -- the union for professional basketball players -- out of $3 million.

Specifically, the complaint states that Prim Capital served as the main investment firm for the NBPA for over a decade, managing $250 million in assets and providing financial services for players.

Prim Capital was asked to provide the U.S. Department of Labor with copies of agreements made with the NBPA as part of an ongoing investigation into the union last year. The firm complied by submitting an agreement indicating that it earned a $350,000 yearly fee from the NBPA, but produced another agreement several months later indicating that it actually earned a $602,000 yearly fee.

Federal prosecutors are now alleging that the signatures on this contract were forged, bearing the name of the NBPA general counsel who had died several months earlier.

"As alleged, Joseph Lombardo faked the signature of a dead man as part of manufacturing a multi-million dollar contract out of whole cloth that, had it been enforced, would have caused significant losses for basketball players who entrusted him with their savings," said U.S. attorney Preet Bharara.

If convicted, Lombardo faces up to 20 years on prison on each of the fraud charges.

It's important to note that white collar crimes are an altogether different kind of case, with law enforcement typically having a difficult time finding hard evidence or a smoking gun. Consequently, it's extremely important to make sure that investigators don't trample on a person's rights during the course of their investigation.

Accordingly, if you have been charged or are currently under investigation for any white collar crime, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced legal professional.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, "Investment firm founder charged with trying to defraud NBA union," Jessica Dye, April 25, 2013