Former New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and other professional athletes said they were cheated out of millions of dollars in a Ponzi-like scheme orchestrated by an investment advisor who appealed to their Christian faith.
Sanchez and Major League Baseball pitchers Jake Peavy and Roy Oswalt were defrauded out of about $30 million, according to a recently unsealed U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit in Dallas federal court. The athletes all used the same broker, Ash Narayan, formerly of RGT Capital Management. The advisor gained their trust through religion and their interest in charitable works, the SEC said.
Narayan concealed multiple conflicts of interest from investors, the SEC said in its lawsuit against him. He directed the athletes’ cash to The Ticket Reserve Inc., which allows fans to reserve face-value tickets to sporting events where the teams have yet to be determined, the SEC said. He was on the company’s board of directors, owned more than 3 million shares and was its primary fundraiser — raising more than 90 percent of the company’s investment capital, the agency said.
“Mr. Narayan has always sought to act in his clients’ best interests,” his lawyer, Howard Privette, said in an e-mail. “Accordingly, he will continue to work with the SEC to ensure that this matter is resolved in the most favorable manner for those clients.”
Nick Sanchez, Mark’s brother and attorney, didn’t have an immediate comment. Representatives for Peavy and Oswalt didn’t immediately return requests for comment.
All three athletes sought low-risk, conservative investment strategies, the SEC said. Narayan ignored their requests and instead invested in TTR even as the company’s financial conditions were in distress. TTR’s chief executive officer wrote to Narayan in a May 2014 e-mail: “To be sure, our revenue sucks. Our balance sheet is a disaster.”
“Narayan exploited athletes and other clients who trusted him to manage their finances. He fraudulently funneled their savings into a money-losing business and his own pocket,” said Shamoil T. Shipchandler, head of the SEC’s Fort Worth office.
Sanchez, who’s set to be the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos this year, met Narayan soon after entering the National Football League in 2009, he said in a court filing. The two attended the same church in California, and Sanchez said he believed the advisor was a devout Christian and highly qualified. The quarterback had his NFL paychecks deposited directly into a brokerage account.