NFL star sues ‘long-term friend' for investment in airplane hangars

Saints' Alex Brown claims adviser Michael Rowan and associates got him into bad investments, including plane hangars and storage facilities.

Oct 25, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

By Bruce Kelly

A defensive end with the NFL's defending Super Bowl champs, the New Orleans Saints, is suing his former team of financial advisers, alleging that they “abused the trust” of the player and his wife, “and embarked on schemes intended to enrich themselves at the expenses” of the couple's financial future.

Alex Brown, who left the Chicago Bears this year to sign with the Saints, and his wife Karimar Brown, sued his two advisers and the firm Capital Management Group Wealth Advisors Inc., for $3.9 million in compensatory damages and $16 million in private damages.

Capital Management Group is based in High Point, N.C.

The suit, which was filed last month in Illinois state court, focuses on a series of illiquid private investments in airplane hangars, storage facilities, a real estate investment concern and variable universal life insurance products.

The advisers who allegedly sold the illiquid investments are Michael Rowan, president of Capital Management Group, and Jason Jernigan. The two formed the firm together, which markets itself as a provider of investment advice to professional athletes, the lawsuit said.

Mr. Brown and Mr. Rowan met while they were attending the University of Florida, according to the lawsuit. In a separate lawsuit about the matter, Mr. Rowan is characterized as Mr. Brown's “long-term friend.” In 2001, Mr. and Ms. Brown “began to accept, without question, [the advisers'] recommendations for the investment of their money,” according to the lawsuit.

Mr. Rowan did not return a call this afternoon left at Capital Management Group.

The suit also names an accountant, James Laubham, who was allegedly aware of the advisers' converting a loan from Mr. Brown to Capital Management Group into an investment and not telling Mr. Brown.

Mr. Laubham did not return calls to comment by deadline.

In the separate lawsuit also filed last month in Illinois state court, Mr. Brown is also suing Wealth Capital Management Group, an advisory firm based in North Royalton, Ohio, where Mr. Jernigan is also affiliated. Mr. Jernigan could not be reached by deadline.

According to records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Wealth Capital Management has no assets under management and up to 25 clients.

Also named in that second suit is Anthony Delfre, who allegedly took part in a fraudulent scheme to make money by appearing to organize a business to recoup foundering investments that Mr. Rowan and Mr. Jernigan recommended, according to the suit.

Mr. Delfre previously worked with Mr. Jernigan at Prim Securities Inc., according to the lawsuit. Mr. Delfre also owns Wealth Capital Management Group, according to the second lawsuit.

Mr. Delfre “completely denies the allegations,” said Brian Riordan, Mr. Delfre's attorney and a partner at Clausen Miller PC. “It was a workout. Alex knew everything that was going on,” he said. “I think it's unfortunate that Alex has brought a lawsuit against people who were trying to help him.”

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