TUCSON, AZ — A man convicted of stealing $4.7 million from former Arizona Wildcats and NBA star Richard Jefferson was sentenced to 70 months in prison.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 46-year-old Theodore Itsvan Joseph Kritza was sentenced in federal court after pleading guilty to bank and wire fraud. He was also ordered to pay nearly $4.8 million in restitution to Jefferson.
In 2017, ESPN and the Arizona Daily Star reported that Krtiza was accused of stealing $7 million from Jefferson.
The charges stem from 2005, when Jefferson hired Kritza to work as his personal assistant in charge of paying his bills. Kritza forged Jefferson's signature on more than two dozen documents, including credit line and business loan applications and power of attorney. He was accused of stealing from Jefferson until 2013.
Kritza stole money from Jefferson's salary, an endorsement contract, and from the sale of his condo. Kritza also opened a bank account in Jefferson's name so he could conceal the misuse of his funds.
“We see this scenario time and again,” said United States Attorney Gary Restaino, in a statement. “A confidant abuses a position of trust and embezzles someone else’s assets. Thanks to our partners at the FBI for their hard work on the investigation.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation also commented on the matter.
“For years, Theodore Kritza preyed upon the trust he gained with the victim and defrauded him of his hard-earned money and savings, choosing greed over trust. Today, Kritza found out the cost of his scheme,” said Sean Kaul, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Phoenix Field Office, in a statement. “This sentencing sends a clear message that fraud is a serious crime, with serious consequences. The FBI remains committed to pursuing justice for all victims of fraud.”
Jefferson graduated from Phoenix Moon Valley High School in 1998 and led the Arizona Wildcats to the 2001 national championship game. He was the 13th pick in the 2001 NBA Draft and played in the league through 2018, winning an NBA title in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He now works as an ESPN analyst.