Even as Kurt Barton was running a Ponzi scheme as CEO of Triton Financial, an investment firm catering to pro athletes, he was using the company's sports ties to run interference. The firm's image was burnished by the Triton Financial Classic, a PGA Champions tour event, and by its Heisman Trophy sponsorship. Promoting Triton in ads was 1976 Heisman winner and NFL Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett. And the sales force included erstwhile passers Koy Detmer and his brother, Ty (the 1990 Heisman winner), Chris Weinke (2000) and Jeff Blake.
But in December the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Triton in federal district court for defrauding investors. Moreover, Barton faces at least four other lawsuits, including a class-action complaint that names the Detmers, Weinke and Blake. The SEC—which cited SI for spotlighting Triton's improprieties (How [and Why] Athletes Go Broke, March 23, 2009)—alleges that Triton raised $8.4 million from 90 investors to acquire an insurance company it never bought. Barton declared that he "intends to work closely to ensure that the investors do not lose their money." Triton's demise also cost the Champions tour an event and the Heisman a sponsor. Said SEC attorney Toby Galloway, "Mr. Barton will no longer be stiff-arming investors."
INFLATED CLAIMS The SEC cited SI's role in shedding light on Triton's sales pitches.