Ex-Kentucky basketball director indicted on charges of defrauding athletes
ESPN.com news services | May 8, 2017
A former Kentucky men’s basketball director and NCAA employee has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of defrauding professional athletes for nearly $1.3 million, aggravated identify theft and money laundering.
Former Kentucky football player Leon Smith, who owned and operated Lexington-based Legacy Pro Management Group and Legacy Athlete Management, was named in the indictment, according to a copy of the document obtained by Yahoo! Sports.
The indictment listed 14 counts of fraud and alleges that Smith misappropriated $1,298,506 in funds from September 2011 through January 2015 from four unnamed professional athletes who used his businesses for various financial services and other assistance, according to Yahoo.
The four alleged individuals were identified only by their initials in the indictment, but Yahoo reported that three of the four are Utah Jazz guard Shelvin Mack (“S.M.”) and former NBA players Darius Miller (“D.M.”) and Josh Harrellson (“J.D.H.”).
According to Yahoo, Smith worked at the NCAA for two years as an assistant director of championships in the 1990s, and one year at USA Basketball. He functioned in a variety of roles at Kentucky from 1997 to 2009 — including serving as special assistant to head basketball coach Tubby Smith from 1997 to ’99 and director of basketball operations from 2001 to ’06.
The indictment says Smith was authorized to “conduct financial transactions on (clients’) behalf and therefore entrusted Smith with his or her financial account data, dates of birth, social security numbers, and other personal and financial data.”
The indictment alleges that Smith then used his access to funnel athletes’ money into his own business accounts.
Smith has an arraignment date scheduled for May 5 in U.S. District Court in Lexington, Kentucky, according to Yahoo.
Smith, who played football at Kentucky in the mid-1990s and graduated from the school in 1995, faces a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison and forfeiture of the $1.298 million he is alleged to have stolen.