MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities small business owner said Tuesday a former local NBA star scammed him out of $25,000.
Eric Lero said he restored a car for former Timberwolves player Al Jefferson, but lost thousands in the deal.
When he last played for the Timberwolves two years ago, Jefferson made more than $12 million. But as good as he was on the court, Lero said his intentions at Sub Zero Sounds were just plain bad.
“It was an ’89 Chevy Caprice. The car was worth $2,500 when he brought it in. It was in real bad shape,” said Lero, owner of Sub Zero Sounds in Columbia Heights.
Jefferson wanted Lero and his crew to restore his car. So they went to work, and spent overnights and overtime putting in a new amp rack, center console, doors and even personalized seats for “Big Al” himself.
They even added an X-Box video game system and television that Jefferson wanted. The total cost was $60,000.
“We trimmed it down. We only got half for a down payment and then he wrote two checks at the end and canceled them a week after he gave them to me,” said Lero.
When Lero asked Jefferson’s assistant why the checks were canceled, he said he got a shocking response.
“He told me they never intended to pay us for the job. That’s what he flat-out said to my face,” said Lero.
Lero said Al Jefferson’s assistant offered him $1,500 to never bring it up again. But he refused and took Jefferson to court.
“He was sitting across from my wife and I in court. He was saying, ‘aaahhhh I shouldn’t have to pay for any of that B-S work.’ He was swearing and making comments like that the whole time,” said Lero.
A judge ordered Jefferson to pay Lero $10,000 back in a settlement, which Lero said he used for attorney fees. He thought working with an NBA star would be a slam dunk. Two-and-a-half years later, that’s not the case.
“Someone like us, if I write $25,000 in bad checks I would probably be in jail. I don’t understand how someone like him can get away with this,” said Lero.
Lero said Jefferson never told him why he didn’t pay him the entire amount. He said the situation created financial problems and forced him to move from his location in Brooklyn Park to a smaller shop in Columbia Heights.
Jefferson still has the car, and it remains in storage in Hudson, Wis. Neither he, nor his agent, returned phone calls that were made on Tuesday.