Former Kentucky Staffer Leon Smith Indicted on Felony Fraud Charges

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2017

A federal grand jury indicted Leon Smith on felony charges of identity theft, money laundering and defrauding clients of almost $1.3 million, Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde reported Monday.

Smith worked on the staff of the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team in various roles from 1997 to 1999 and then again from 2001 to 2009.

Smith also owned Legacy Pro Management Group and Legacy Athlete Management, through which he allegedly committed the fraud. According to Forde, two of his alleged victims were former Kentucky players, Josh Harrellson and Darius Miller. Utah Jazz guard Shelvin Mack is another player allegedly defrauded by Smith.

The Lexington Herald-Leader's Greg Kocher summarized the claims against Smith:

In each instance, the client entrusted Smith with financial-account data, birth dates, Social Security numbers and other personal information that allowed Smith to conduct authorized financial transactions on the client's behalf.

Smith then devised a scheme to defraud the clients, the indictment says. That included abusing his access to clients' financial accounts and using the money for unauthorized purposes, the indictment says. 

According to Kocher, prosecutors said in the indictment the fraud occurred between September 2011 and January 2015, during which time "Smith misappropriated $1,298,506 in money belonging to clients."

Forde laid out some of the specific charges. Smith allegedly took a $40,000 royalty check from the National Basketball Players Association that was supposed to go to Harrellson and instead deposited the check into a Legacy company account. In addition, Smith allegedly took $14,000 from the private account of a client only identified as "J.L." and placed the money in a Legacy account.

Kocher reported Smith could face 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if he's found guilty. Smith will be due in court May 15 for his arraignment.

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