A New Orleans woman won athletes' hearts and left them broke.
NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman headlines a group of former professional athletes scammed by a financial advisor, who won them over before robbing them blind. Sports Illustrated's Alex Prewitt explores how Rodman and others met Peggy and discovered how she stole their money.
Peggy Ann Fulford built a sports management empire that included clients like Rodman, Indiana Pacers point guard Travis Best, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Rashad McCants and Miami Dolphins Ricky Williams and Lex Hilliard.
Rodman met Peggy through a mutual friend in the mid-2000s and developed such a close bond with her that he thanked her in his 2011 Hall of Fame enshrinement speech. Two years later, Rodman made headlines as one of the first Americans to travel to North Korea and meet leader Kim Jong-Un. Elkin King, a man Peggy called her "little brother" who was actually her son, sat behind the Supreme Leader at an exhibition game in Pyongyang and was later seen eating across from him at a private dinner.
In his retirement, Rodman continued to rake in money with gigs like deejaying in St. Tropez and signing autographs at conventions. His former assistant, AJ Bright, said Rodman could make over $100,000 at overseas appearances and up to $30,000 at each in the U.S. Other associates of Rodman's told Prewitt that the former NBA player was estimated to be making over $1 million in the late 2000s between appearances and reality TV stints.
Despite Rodman's multiple work engagements, financial red flags started piling up. Bright realized payments had lapsed on a $5 million life insurance policy. Rodman once called his lawyer Bradford Cohen to ask why the electricity went out on a Florida condo Peggy helped him find. Prewitt reports Peggy blamed the financial issues on Rodman's spending habits and said he couldn't be trusted with his own money. She took control of his bank accounts and cut off his access to a debit card.
About a year after Rodman's Hall of Fame induction, he was threatened with contempt of court in Orange County, Calif. for missing four months of child support payments to his first wife. In court, Rodman's spending habits came up and he was questioned over a large charge at Victoria's Secret. Rodman told a friend that night, "I've never even been to Victoria's Secret."
Authorities later discovered Peggy was overseeing 85 bank accounts and pushing money from one account to the other, living lavishly off other people's money. Peggy also lied to her clients about earning degrees from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School and making millions on Wall Street.
On top of the 85 bank accounts, authorities found over 20 shell corporations registered across multiple states. Peggy used them to launder money, including the Dennis Rodman Group LLC, Dennis Rodman Group & Associates LLC and Dennis Rodman Inc.
"Peggy's scheme was as basic as it was brazen," according to Prewitt. "Typically, she would offer to manage a victim's finances—no fee—and start two bank accounts where the new client's income would be deposited as it flowed in. One was a joint account for living expenses; the other, ostensibly for investments, would be funneled into her own coffers, aided by a power of attorney that she secured thanks to her supposed legal credentials."
In 2018, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison handed Peggy a 10-year prison sentence for scamming Rodman, Williams and others. Ellison also ruled she must pay $5.7 million to her victims.
Earlier this year, Rodman filed a separate lawsuit seeking judgment against Peggy in Broward County, Fla. Through a longtime companion, he relayed a comment to Prewitt: "I've got nothing to say about that. It's over. I'll never see my money."