Former Houston Athletics Foundation Treasurer Guilty of Wire Fraud
Brian Bjork, an associate of the Texas financial adviser who committed suicide while under federal investigation in 2011, pleaded guilty in a Houston federal court on Tuesday to a single count of wire fraud. The primary victim in his $1.4 million fraud scheme was the organization that raises money for athletic scholarships at the University of Houston. He acknowledged that his scheme included $500,000 stolen from the nonprofit Houston Athletics Foundation while he acted as treasurer from 2004-2011. The remaining funds were stolen from eight individual investors.
According to the plea agreement, Bjork wrote checks disguised as bond investments in what is being labeled as a “scam within a scam”. The money was then deposited into an account he had set-up “to support his lifestyle and pay prior investors”. He also used his signatory authority with the organization to move funds to the account, and to fool the foundation’s’ auditors Bjork would generate fictitious statements for his transactions. The Associated press reported in December of 2011 that the foundation may have love over 40% of its listed assets because of Salinas’ alleged scheme.
Bjork was a business associate of David Salinas, and a former student manager for the basketball team at Rice University. He was also the co-founder of Salinas’ basketball program, Houston Select Basketball.
Bjork’s attorney, Matt Hennessy, declined to comment Wednesday on a plea and what it may mean for his client. The single wire fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 14th.