Wine Executive Charles Banks Sentenced to Four Years for Swindling Ex-NBA Star

Teary-eyed Banks also ordered to pay Tim Duncan $7.5 million.
Charles Banks

Charles Banks, the one-time owner of Screaming Eagle, was sentenced by a Texas federal judge to four years in prison on Wednesday, and ordered to pay retired NBA Spurs star Tim Duncan $7.5 million.

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery also ordered Banks, 49, of Atlanta, to serve three years of supervised release once his federal prison term ends. Banks will surrender to authorities on or about August 28, 2017, to begin his sentence.

A financial adviser and founder of Terroir Capital, Banks deceived retired San Antonio Power Forward Duncan into investing millions in sportswear company Gameday Entertainment. Banks was initially indicted on four counts of fraud last year in federal court in San Antonio, Texas; However, he pleaded guilty on April 3, 2017, to a reduced charge of one count of wire fraud.

He could have received up to 20 years in prison.

Star-Filled, Jam-Packed Courtroom

The hearing took place in a standing-room-only courtroom and spread over two days. The room was filled with a squad of NBA stars. Kevin Garnett, who played in the league for 21 years and had been a previous investor in Gameday, was in the gallery, as were two of Duncan’s former San Antonio teammates, Sean Elliott and Manu Ginobili.

The room was also packed with Banks’ supporters. The married father of three, who bought Mayacamas, Qupé wineries as well as New Zealand’s Trinity Hill, welled-up with tears as he apologized to his family and to Duncan, saying, “Tim, I’m sorry.”

A day earlier, the judge had given Duncan the chance to speak to Banks directly. He told Banks, “I just wanted you to own up, pay up and we’d move on. You wouldn’t, so now we’re here with this in front of a judge.”

In his four-page, victim-impact statement, Duncan said he never wanted to see his name in the papers again after his 19-year NBA career ended.

“I beat my body up and lost precious time with my family,” to have success and not worry about finances, his statement said, in part. “I’m the poster child for the dumb athlete whose financial adviser took his money. I hate it and am embarrassed by it, more than you can imagine.

“I promise you that, if he has any excuse to get back into this line of business, he will be out hustling and doing the same thing to others,” Duncan’s statement continued. “Judge, please do not send a message to guys like Banks that nothing really bad happens to you if it is the first time you get caught.”

Published on June 28, 2017
Topics: Wine and Crime News
About the Author
Leslie Gevirtz
Contributing Editor, Business

An award-winning journalist, Gevirtz spent more than 20 years covering disasters—natural, political, and financial—before becoming Reuters’ wine correspondent; a beat that guaranteed her colleagues were always glad to see her.



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