Former NFL wide receiver and Olympic sprinter Willie Gault was hit with a lawsuit recently that alleges he took part in efforts to fraudulently boost stock of a company he helped manage.
California-based Heart Tronics was being managed by the former athlete when the company announced millions of dollars in fake sales for its heart monitoring devices between 2006 and 2008. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed the lawsuit against the company because the false sales reports were an attempt to generate publicity for the company, which would ultimately boost the company's stock, the agency contends.
Also named in the suit were Gault's co-chief executive officer J. Rowland Perkins, attorney Mitchell Stein and Stein's chauffeur Martin Carter.
“Stein took advantage of Gault’s celebrity to further prop up the image of Heart Tronics as a successful enterprise,” Stephen L. Cohen, an associate director in the SEC’s enforcement division, said in a statement. “Stein secretly sold millions of dollars in stock while peddling false claims of Heart Tronics’ lucrative sales orders, and has been living the high life off his illicit proceeds with multiple homes, exotic cars and private jets.”
According to reports, the defendants gained close to $8 million by trading the stock on false sales numbers.
Gault was a member of the Super Bowl-winning 1985 Chicago Bears after leaving the University of Tennessee for the NFL.