Prominent Basketball Trainer Sentenced to 4+ Years in Prison for Fraud
Defendant Used Association with High Wealth Individuals to Solicit Investments
A 62-year-old Redmond, Washington man who trained high profile basketball players and at one time worked for the Seattle Supersonics was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 50 months in prison for fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. STEPHEN BRUCE GORDON pleaded guilty in April 2015, admitting he defrauded approximately thirty victims of more than $4 million through a variety of interrelated schemes, each of which was based on lies. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez acknowledged Gordon’s contributions to the basketball community but said, “he used the game and his connections to people in it to take money from his victims…in his wake, he left financial ruin.”
“This defendant spun a web of lies, going so far as to have an associate impersonate government officials and a wealthy businessman to lull his victims,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “Mr. Gordon traded on a well of goodwill in the community, but he poisoned that well with his lies and now has to live with the consequences of his actions.”
According to the plea agreement and other records filed in the case, between 2007 and 2013, GORDON solicited investments for a variety of schemes ranging from bringing an NBA franchise to Seattle, to supporting an Australian basketball league, to investing in Section 8 housing in the Southeast United States. GORDON employed a variety of lies to make his schemes seem legitimate and traded on his relationship with a prominent tech billionaire, and other respected professionals to make it appear he had significant backing for his proposed businesses. When investors started to get nervous about the money they had placed with GORDON, he paid an associate $29,000 to make telephone calls to various investors pretending to be a wealthy technology company executive, former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and even former Attorney General Eric Holder. The calls were designed to “put off” or “lull” investors whose investments had been used to repay prior investors as part of the defendant’s Ponzi scheme.
In their sentencing memo prosecutors noted that GORDON’s “schemes all preyed on the relationships and trust that Gordon had meticulously established with his victims. The defendant may not have set out to create a scheme to get rich. He simply started telling small lies when early investments failed. At any point, he could have stopped the fraud. He never did. Small lies became big lies, and tens of thousands of dollars in losses became millions.”
Judge Martinez ordered GORDON into custody to immediately begin serving his sentence. GORDON is responsible for $4,009,143 in restitution to his victims.
The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Diggs.