- Financial adviser, ex-race car driver indicted on fraud, money-laundering charges
- They are accused of defrauding at least 13 NHL players in one scheme
- "I trusted him and thought he was a friend," ex-player says of Kenner
A financial adviser to several National Hockey League players has been arrested, along with a former professional race car driver, on charges they defrauded investors of $15 million, the U.S. attorney's office in New York said.
Phillip A. Kenner, 43, a former financial adviser to several former and current NHL players, and former racer Tommy C. Constantine, 47, also known as "Tommy C. Hormovitis," were indicted Wednesday on charges of wire fraud and money laundering involving real estate and business investment schemes, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York said in a news release.
Kenner was also charged with wire fraud involving another alleged scheme to buy real estate in Sag Harbor, New York, according to the news release.
Kenner and Constantine were arrested Wednesday in Scottsdale, Arizona, and were scheduled to appear before a judge there for removal proceedings to New York, the U.S. attorney's office said.
In four separate schemes, the duo allegedly told the victims their funds would be invested in real estate property in Hawaii, a startup company and litigation related to Mexican land. Kenner also is accused of acquiring property in Sag Harbor, New York, using a player's line of credit without his knowledge.
In the largest alleged scheme, Kenner and Constantine are accused of defrauding at least 13 NHL players and others of more than $13 million. The victims were asked to invest in a real estate development on the Big Island of Hawaii, but instead of investing the money as promised the pair used it for personal real estate purchases, personal expenses and to conceal the scheme, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
The news release did not give any alleged victims' names, but Bryan Berard, a former defenseman for several teams, including the New York Islanders, told CNN he will be a witness in the case.
Berard, who played 11 seasons in the NHL before retiring in 2008, told CNN that he became suspicious about four years ago when the investments weren't producing any returns. He and a friend, a former New York police officer, began looking at records and noticed that money was missing and signatures were forged. They gave their evidence to the FBI and for the past three years have been helping the investigation.
"I trusted him and thought he was a friend," Berard said of Kenner, whom he met in college, "but this whole time he was stealing everything from me."
Kenner built a client list of several NHL players while at a firm in Boston, according to the news release, and after opening his own firm in 2003 continued to advise players in investments that he promised would earn them significant profits.
Kenner also urged players to invest in a company that Constantine operated, and had them invest $1.4 million in what they said was a prepaid debit card business, which Kenner said had great potential for growth, the U.S. attorney's office said.
Instead, the money went to personal accounts controlled by Constantine and Kenner and was used to cover their "personal mortgages, credit card bills, travel costs, jewelry, and other expenses," according to the news release.
"The arrest came as a complete surprise to us," said Constantine's attorney Edward Little. "We're confident that if this case goes to trial there will be an acquittal."
It was not clear Thursday whether Kenner was being represented by an attorney.