DALLAS (CN) - Former NFL player Nathaniel Jones claims former Dallas Mavericks star Rolando Blackman cost him $150,000 in an African gold venture gone bad.
Jones sued Blackman and David K. Mureeba, a professional engineer, in Dallas County Court.
In his complaint, Jones describes himself as "an independently wealthy individual, having played in the National Football League for a number of years." He says he met the defendants through "friends and contacts."
They asked him to invest in Africa Power & Energy Uganda Ltd., of which Mureeba is its president and CEO, according to the complaint.
"Mr. Blackman and Mr. Mureeba represented to plaintiff that his money would only go to further the purposes of the project," the complaint states. "Mr. Blackman and Mr. Mureeba represented to plaintiff that his investment would be used to meet EAP&E's need to airlift precious metals from Dar es Salaam to Antwerp, Belgium, where it would be sold to a refinery."
Jones claims the defendants "guaranteed" him a 4 percent return on net proceeds from the sale.
In May 2012, Jones says, the defendants went to Europe and Africa to work on the project. Jones says he asked for information in September after receiving no return on his $150,000 investment.
"The same day plaintiff requested information from Mr. Blackman and Mr. Mureeba, plaintiff received a letter from Mr. Blackman written by an attorney representing Mr. Blackman, and addressed to another investor in the project," the complaint states. "Among other things, the content of the letter expressed the following: (a) Mr. Blackman will have no relationship with [the] investor in connection with any business activity, including in particular, the project; (b) to immediately cease and desist any communications related to the project or any other project Mr. Blackman is involved in; and (c) for the investor to refrain from disparaging or making false statements about Mr. Blackman."
Jones claims says that in January, Mureeba told him the project had become "complicated" and that he had moved on to other projects.
In February, Jones says, he made a formal demand for an accounting and the return of his money and that the defendants have failed to respond.
Blackman, a four-time NBA All Star, played 11 years with the Dallas Mavericks and two years with the New York Knicks. He is one of two Mavericks players to have his number retired. He now works an assistant coach with the Turkish national basketball team and was an assistant coach with the German national basketball team when they won a bronze medal at the 2002 World Basketball Championships. EAP&E claims on its website that it is a clean energy startup that seeks to establish a bio-diesel, bio-energy and bio-chemical industry in Uganda.
Jones seeks an accounting and actual and punitive damages for fraud, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. He is represented by D. Woodward Glenn of Dallas.
In a statement through Sunrise Sports Groups, Mureeba called the lawsuit "a malicious, frivolous and criminal act by Jones to libel EAP&E and Rolando Blackman."
"EAP&E is a start-up company that has established the complex protocols necessary to conduct business in Africa," Mureeba added. "Despite the successful work to date and significant long-term prospects of EAP&E, Jones has irrationally and groundlessly subjected the company to a lawsuit that depicts a hateful attempt to defame the character of Rolando Blackman and me.
Mureeba also said that "Blackman has no fiduciary duty to the EAP&E banking accounts."
As to the cease-and-desist order that Jones described in the lawsuit, Mureeba said the letter was actually issued to one of Jones' affiliates
Blackman said he may countersue Jones for libel.
"Mr. Jones is hateful and his defamatory and libelous acts will not affect the progress of our work in Africa and other nations; however, may result in legal action," Blackman said in a statement.
The statement describes Mureeba as Uganda's honorary consul general for the southwestern United States. It says Blackman has been a global goodwill ambassador to the United Nations in Africa and the southwest region of the United States since 2007.