He was one of the golden boys of the Sacramento Kings organization, the man who sold crucial sponsorships and smoothed over ruffled feathers after the former owners alienated the business community. He was a key figure in negotiating the $120 million naming-rights deal for Golden 1 Center.
Little wonder, then, that team owners and others in Sacramento were stunned to learn Thursday that the FBI is investigating allegations that former Kings marketing executive Jeffrey David embezzled $13.4 million from two of the Kings’ top sponsors.
“I was shocked, that’s all I can say,” said longtime Kings minority owner John Kehriotis. “I’m blown away.”
David, 44, was a senior Kings executive until earlier this summer and negotiated sponsorship deals with Golden 1 Credit Union and Kaiser Permanente Foundation, among other corporate clients. The FBI is investigating whether David diverted funds that Golden 1 and Kaiser had paid to the Kings for sponsorships, including Golden 1’s reported 20-year, $120 million naming-rights partnership on the Kings’ two-year-old downtown arena.
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He left Sacramento earlier this summer to join the Miami Heat organization.
David was the Kings’ vice president of corporate partnerships from 2006 to 2010, when the team was owned by the Maloof family. He left Sacramento that year to join the NBA league office in New York, where he worked in global marketing.
He didn’t stay in New York long. In 2011 the Kings were in crisis. The Maloofs had tried and failed to relocate the franchise to Anaheim and were desperate to rebuild ties with Sacramentans. The league loaned David and another NBA executive, Chris Granger, to the Kings to help with sales and sponsorships.
“He was very familiar with the market, he was very familiar with the sponsors, he was the right guy (for the NBA) to send back,” Kehriotis said. “He did some really good things; he was with us for quite awhile.”
According to his biography on the Heat’s website, then-NBA Commissioner David Stern installed David as the Kings’ chief revenue officer in 2012. That same year, the Maloofs abandoned a plan to build a new arena at the downtown railyard, further alienating fans and sponsors. David was among the Kings executives instrumental in keeping sponsors from jumping ship.
One of those sponsors, real estate executive Phil Oates of the Buzz Oates Group of Companies, said David was part of a team of Kings representatives who personally assured him the organization was headed in the right direction.
“They came in and said things were going to be better,” said Oates, who’s now a minority owner of the team. “He was not a high-pressure guy ... He’s soft spoken.”
In an interview with The Sacramento Bee in 2012, David said the Kings brand remained powerful in the business community.
“Between Halloween and Tax Day (April 15), the Kings are the most highly trafficked entity in Sacramento, the dominant force in the market,” he said. “That is what businesses want.”
In 2013, the Maloofs sold their majority interest in the Kings to a group led by Vivek Ranadivé after another relocation effort — this time, to Seattle — was scuttled by the league. Ranadivé brought in Granger as team president, and David continued with the organization.
David was a familiar figure in the business community, representing the Kings at such events as the Tower Bridge Dinner to celebrate Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork festival. He and his wife, Kate, an author of children’s books, settled in the Land Park neighborhood with their children.
Granger left the team last year and David left this year for Miami. David’s bio on the Heat’s website said that while in Sacramento, he “developed and managed sales and marketing strategies for the Kings’ parent company, which included a robust real estate portfolio of sports/entertainment venues, retail, office, hotel and residential projects.” It referred to the arena naming-rights deal with Golden 1 as one of his “many career highlights.”
The Davids sold their Sacramento home in July for $1.1 million, according to public records and Zillow.
According to a warranty deed filed to the Miami-Dade County clerk of courts, the Davids closed on a six-bedroom, six-and-a-half bathroom property in Pinecrest, Florida — an affluent suburban village in southern Miami-Dade County — for $2.825 million on Aug. 21.
That’s a little less than eight weeks after the Heat hired David and a week after the investigation into David began.
Jordan McPherson of The Miami Herald contributed to this report.