SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 17511 / May 8, 2002
United States v. William H. Black, et al., No. 1:00CR15 SPM (N.D. Fla.)
FORMER PROFESSIONAL SPORTS AGENT WILLIAM H. "TANK" BLACK SENTENCED TO 60 MONTHS IN PRISON AND ORDERED TO PAY $12 MILLION IN RESTITUTION FOLLOWING PARALLEL CRIMINAL PROSECUTION
The Commission announced that on May 7, 2002, William H. "Tank" Black, a former professional sports agent, was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison and ordered to pay $12 million in restitution stemming from charges that he defrauded his athlete-clients in multiple investment schemes over a three-year period. The Hon. Stephan P. Mickle imposed the maximum sentence after a hearing in United States District Court in the Northern District of Florida (Gainesville Division).
On January 31, 2002, a jury found Black guilty of conspiring to commit mail fraud, to commit wire fraud, to obstruct the SEC's parallel investigation and to defraud the United States gvernment. The United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida prosecuted Black for the same conduct that underlies a civil enforcement action brought by the Commission in February 2000 against Black and others in United States District Court in the Middle District of Florida. The Commission's lawsuit, which has been stayed pending resolution of the criminal case, alleges that Black and his sports agency business, Professional Management, Inc., defrauded nearly two dozen client-athletes of millions of dollars they entrusted to Black for investment purposes. The Commission's complaint alleges:
- Black fraudulently obtained free stock in a small public company, BAOA, Inc., by falsely promising to the company that his client-athletes would provide promotional services. Black then advised his clients to invest in the company and sold them the very stock that had been issued in their names for free, with Black misappropriating the proceeds.
- Black defrauded PMI client-athletes by encouraging them to invest millions of dollars in Cash 4 Titles, a purported car title loan business (which was, in fact, an offshore Ponzi scheme), all the while reaping undisclosed commissions almost equal to the returns received by PMI's client-athletes. In so doing, Black conducted no due diligence into the safety of the underlying investment or the soundness of the business; the recommendations were instead motivated by Black's desire to access client funds and to skim a substantial part of his clients' monthly investment returns.
- Finally, Black insinuated himself into the ongoing Ponzi scheme and, using Cayman Islands entities that he secretly controlled, diverted some or all of the periodic interest payments made by the Ponzi promoter on his clients' investments. Further, in some instances, Black misappropriated or diverted client funds that he falsely claimed had been invested.
The guilty verdict included, as an object of the conspiracy, Black's obstruction of the Commission's parallel investigation. At trial, the jury heard evidence that Black lied under oath in his SEC testimony, produced fabricated documents to the SEC and failed to produce numerous other documents in response to Commission subpoenas.
Judge Mickle ordered that Black serve his 60-month sentence after completing a prior sentence of nearly seven years for his role in laundering $1.1 million for a drug ring in Detroit. In the Detroit case, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan prosecuted Black for laundering drug money through the same Cash 4 Titles Ponzi scheme that he pitched to his client-athletes. Black began serving the Detroit sentence in June 2001. Additionally, Black still faces an additional money laundering conspiracy charge in the Northern District of Florida. If eventually convicted on all counts, Black could face a total prison sentence exceeding 25 years.
For further information about the Commission's action against Black, see Litigation Release No. 16455 (February 25, 2000) and Litigation Release No. 17358 (February 11, 2002).