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Man Charged in Theft From NBA Player

Former business manager is accused of embezzling nearly $3 million from Jazz guard.

June 06, 2003|Akilah Johnson | Times Staff Writer

Bruce Jay Breger, a business manager with a celebrity clientele, was arrested Thursday and charged with embezzling almost $3 million from a professional basketball player, Mark Jackson, guard for the Utah Jazz.

The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles charged Breger, 40, with two counts of wire fraud Wednesday. Authorities alleged that Breger had made about 40 unauthorized wire transfers from Jackson's account at a City National Bank in Westwood to his own account from 1999 to 2001.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Douglas Fuchs said Breger had forged his client's signature on fax requests for fund transfers. Breger also pretended to be Jackson on the phone, Fuchs said.

Jackson hired Breger and Breger's company, Breger Management Group, based in Woodland Hills, in 1994 to serve as the athlete's business manager, according to court documents. The firm was to monitor Jackson's bank accounts and to assist in paying bills, according to court documents.

But Breger "did not have signing authority on behalf of Mr. Jackson," Fuchs said. "Mr. Jackson was careful not to give him signing credit, " the prosecutor said.

Jackson and his wife filed a civil lawsuit against Berger in January 2002, claiming that their former business manager was embezzling money from them to pay off his gambling debts. That litigation is pending.

At Thursday's bond hearing, Richard Moss, Breger's attorney, admitted that his client had a problem, but said that Breger has been attending Gamblers Anonymous for about two years. "There has been no whisper of impropriety since then," Moss said.

Breger was released on $50,000 bond. He is due back in court in two weeks.

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