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Published: Thursday, 5/21/2009

Pistons star sues former business manager; says he stole $1 million

ASSOCIATED PRESS

HARTFORD, Conn. Detroit Pistons basketball star Richard Hamilton has filed a federal lawsuit accusing his former business manager, already at the center of recruiting allegations at the University of Connecticut, of stealing about $1 million from him.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District court in eastern Pennsylvania against 34-year-old Josh Nochimson of Glenview, Ill. It accuses Nochimson of using Hamilton's credit card to buy airline flights, game tickets and other items.

It also accuses Nochimson of using 1.4 million of Hamilton's American Express frequent flyer miles; failing to pay back $80,000 lent to Nochimson to repair a Maryland house; improperly transferring at least $3,000 from Hamilton's bank accounts into Nochimson's private account; and writing about $112,000 in unauthorized checks from Hamilton's bank account.

Hamilton is seeking more than $1 million in restitution, but his attorney, Alan Milstein, said the lawsuit is about more than that.

"It's not like Mr. Hamilton is desperate for the money," Milstein said. "Money isn't what's motivating him. It's more just a sense of betrayal and justice."

Hamilton, who is from Coatesville, Pa., filed the action in Pennsylvania because he hired Nochimson there, Milstein said.

Nochimson's attorney, Matthew Leitman, said he has not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it.

Hamilton and Nochimson met at UConn, where Hamilton led the Huskies to a national title in 1999. Nochimson was a student manager for the team.

After Hamilton was drafted by the Washington Wizards in 1999, Nochimson tagged along, becoming his personal assistant. In exchange, Hamilton provided him a place to live, living expenses and experience that Nochimson hoped to use to begin a career in sports management, according to the lawsuit.

Hamilton later agreed to pay Nochimson $25,000 a year, then raised that to $45,000 and finally $50,000, giving Nochimson the title of business manager. As part of that job, Nochimson had access to Hamilton's bank accounts and American Express card to pay Hamilton's bills, the lawsuit said.

Nochimson also ran Hamilton's basketball camps for poor children in Pennsylvania.

"He was a friend, who Mr. Hamilton had placed a lot of trust in," Milstein said.

Hamilton alleges in the lawsuit that Nochimson began stealing from him in 2003, and ran up $85,000 in fraudulent charges between 2005 and 2008.

Milstein said Nochimson is not accused of stealing money from the basketball camps.

Nochimson was accused earlier this year of improperly helping guide basketball recruit Nate Miles to Connecticut by giving him lodging, transportation, meals and representation. The school and the NCAA are investigating those allegations.

Milstein said he doesn't know if Nochimson used Hamilton's credit card to pay for any of those expenses.

"That really doesn't play into this (lawsuit) at all," he said.

He said the credit card bills show "dinners, everything you would see on a normal American Express bill, but there was a lot of travel on there, obviously."

Milstein said Nochimson has told Hamilton that the allegations are true, but also has indicated he is broke.



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