Financial Planner Suspected of Running a Ponzi Scheme Involving Athletes and Coaches Found Dead

David Salinas, a Houston financial planner and well known athletics benefactor to Rice University and the University of Houston, was found dead in his home on July 17, 2011 due to an apparent suicide, as reported by the Houston Chronicle and other sources. His death comes on the heels of allegations by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that he was suspected of being involved in a Ponzi scheme targeting high profile Texas coaches.

J. David Financial Group, Salinas’ business, and Select Asset Management, a firm that he frequently worked with, notified its clients that the SEC had subpoenaed information from its files.

Mr. Salinas started cultivating friendships with Texas basketball coaches as far back as 1988 and would often help with fundraising for the schools and assist the coaches with their personal investments and their contracts. Over time, he developed a massive network of clients, including football and basketball coaches, through working with universities on their fundraising and Houston area churches. According to the article, Mr. Salinas had a diverse group of clients everywhere all across the country and not just in Texas.

Just as in many cases, the victims ended up being the friendships and relationships that had been cultivated over time causing them to trust him with their money. Many coaches have been spending time over the summer trying to figure out how much money they actually lost. Salinas apparently sent out regular statements to everyone that appeared to be legitimate but turned out to be fraudulent, since Salinas was unable to account for millions of dollars of his investors’ money to the SEC. “The SEC’s red flag when investigating Salinas was that he couldn’t produce documentation to prove the existence of the bonds detailed on investors’ statements.”

David Salinas was the founder of Houston Select Basketball and was a director for Houston Athletics Foundation, which is a non-profit corporation that served to raise money for the University of Houston Athletic Department. Contributors to his Houston Select Basketball included Joseph Jones from Texas A&M, Dexter Pittman from Texas and NBA’s Miami Heat, Demetri Goodson from Gonzaga, Jawann McClellan from Arizona and Cartier Martin from Kansas State and NBA’s Washington Wizards.

Some of the coaches that invested with Salinas or gave testimonials for him were Baylor coach Scott Drew, ex-Rice coach/current Texas A&M Corpus Christi coach Willis Wilson, ex-Arizona coach Lute Olson, Texas Tech coach Billy Gillespie, Nebraska coach Doc Sadler, and others. One coach has said that Salinas tried to get him to give him a considerable amount of money to invest and he would in turn try and steer players to the coach’s school but the coach declined the deal.

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