When retired Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis was informed that he had lost $3.778 million through unauthorized investments made on his behalf without his permission, his reaction was predictable.
"Ray was shocked and surprised," said Andrew Kagan, Lewis' lawyer.
Lewis and former Ravens linebacker Tavares Gooden are part of a group of 16 current and former players who have filed a lawsuit against BB&T Bank for almost $60 million allegedly lost through unauthorized bank transfers made by BankAtlantic, which was later acquired by BB&T, according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by The Baltimore Sun.
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Gooden allegedly lost $515,000 through an unauthorized bank transfer.
"Ray had no idea this was going on," Kagan said Friday in a telephone interview. "A lot of them had no idea this was going on until we sat them down and went over the bank records. Ray and Tavares were both very shocked and surprised by what happened.
"Ray doesn't want to talk to the media at this time. At the end of the day, my goal is to make my clients as whole as possible. Hopefully, we can make that happen."
Kagan said no court dates have been set and no depositions have been scheduled yet.
"It's probably going to take a little while to hear back from the court," he said. "That will happen in due time."
The lawsuit involves the players accusing the bank of allowing disgraced financial advisor Jeff Rubin and his former firm, Pro Sports Financial, to open accounts in their names and place tens of millions of dollars in unauthorized investments without their permission.
“This didn’t happen at BB&T,” BB&T vice president of corporate communications David White said. “Unfortunately, we inherited the responsibility for it when we acquired BankAtlantic. Because this is pending litigation, we cannot comment further.”The majority of the money went to a failed casino bingo project in Alabama that was deemed illegal under Alabama law in July of 2012. Rubin has been banned from the securities industry.
The lawsuit alleges that the bank developed a "close business relationship with Pro Sports, Rubin and other Pro Sports employees," including a special division "dedicated to targeting and servicing athletes and others in the sports industry."
The lawsuit alleged that BankAtlantic allowed: "unusual, suspicious and extraordinary withdrawals from accounts opened in the name of each plaintiff that were neither within the scope of the service identified in the client services agreement nor authorized by the plaintiff in whose name the account was opened. BB&T had actual knowledge that certain transactions on the plaintiffs’ accounts were unauthorized and exceeded the scope of the plaintiffs’ client service agreements with Pro Sports."
Kagan characterized the situation as a true cautionary tale but emphasized that it's hard to say what could have been done to avoid what happened to the players.
"Everyone can learn by seeing what happens to other people," Kagan said. "In the end, nothing could prevent this other than the bank doing their job in a proper manner. There's nothing you can do if money is allowed to be wired out of accounts without permission.
"With all the banking controls, you would never expect this. ... This affects so many people because the players have families and are active in their various communities. It hurts everyone, unfortunately."