Former Financial Advisor Admits To Defrauding UH Athletics Fundraising Group
by: Gail Delaughter, February 20, 2013 2:02:00 pm
Federal prosecutors say along with defrauding investors, 43-year-old Brian Bjork also stole over a half-million dollars from the Houston Athletics Fund. That's an outside organization that raises money for University of Houston sports.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Varnado says Bjork worked for two investment firms operated by Friendswood financial advisor David Salinas, who became the subject of a multi-million dollar fraud investigation.
After Salinas killed himself in 2011, Varnado says they learned Bjork was involved in his own illegal activities, essentially a "scam within a scam."
"He approached family members, promised them he would do certain things with their money, including investing in Mr Salinas' pawn shops and investing in Mr. Salinas' bond offerings, when in reality he simply diverted those funds, converted them to his own use."
And Varnado says while those scams were going on, Bjork also siphoned off about $550,000 from the Athletics Fund:
"By sending, writing checks, and then forging whatever other signatures might be needed, and then putting those checks directly into his own account and using them for his own purposes."
Bjork will be sentenced in June. He could get up to 20 years in federal prison.
UH Athletics Director Mack Rhodes issued a statement saying that while any loss of funds from an outside donor impacts student athletes, this specific incident will not have a major negative impact on the athletics department.