Heisman Trophy Winner Loses $2M in Ponzi Scheme
Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer says that he lost the majority of his life savings in a Ponzi scheme that targeted athletes, according to a Bloomberg and Associated Press release. Detmer, who lives and coaches in Austin, Texas, revealed that he was forced to liquidate accounts that were earmarked for his daughters’ education in order to survive. To make matters worse, he was also forced to put his house up for sale.
Detmer is said to have lost roughly $2 million at the hands of Kurt Branham Barton, a former broker with Veritrust Financial LLC and managing member of Triton Services LLC. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed suit against Mr. Barton alleging that he took $8.4 million from some ninety (90) investors in a fraudulent scheme involving “investor units” in company insurance. Furthermore, the SEC alleged in its lawsuit that Barton created a $50 million Ponzi scheme involving limited partnerships. Court documents reveal that the process involved many well known professional athletes and brokers, among others including Barton to help bring in new investors. The scheme attracted literally hundreds who were victimized across the country, including Earl Campbell, Jeff Blake and Chris Weinke.. A March 2009 article in Sports Illustrated related to Barton and his investments got the attention of the Texas State Securities Board, which initiated an investigation. The case is now being tried in federal court, where Barton faces multiple charges including wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering, among others.
In an emotional first day of trial, Detmer talked about how he had been investing with Barton since 2005 and how the losses he sustained had affected his life. After he and his family moved to Austin back in 2000, he testified that he and Barton became good friends after meeting each other at church. Just like the others, Barton quickly gained the confidence of Detmer, who ended up giving him the majority of what he had saved. He further testified that, “I trusted him with everything.” Once in the scheme, he was solicited to go out and bring in new investors, like those who had come before him.
It is alleged by the prosecution that in order to fit in with the professional athletes, Barton used the money from investors to buy a $150,000 car, to maintain a luxury suite for University of Texas football games and to fly on private jets, among other things. They have also claimed that he falsified documents in order to secure a loan, by saying one of his accounts held $6 million when in fact it really had $6,000.