Predators co-owner sued over $10M loan to buy into team

Updated: June 4, 2008, 9:46 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- A prominent Silicon Valley financier has been accused of defrauding a bank to secure a $10 million loan that he used to buy an ownership stake in the NHL's Nashville Predators.

William "Boots" Del Biaggio III was sued this week in Santa Clara County Superior Court by Modern Bank, a New York-based private bank that counts former NFL star Joe Montana as a vice chairman.

It is the latest in a series of legal setbacks for Del Biaggio, the son of a well-known local banking family and co-founder of the investment firm Sand Hill Capital. The 40-year-old businessman is accused in three separate lawsuits of providing forged documents to financial institutions to land multimillion-dollar loans that he has not repaid.

Del Biaggio's lawyer did not immediately return calls seeking comment Wednesday.

In the latest lawsuit, filed Monday, Modern Bank says Del Biaggio supplied bogus account statements to prove the size of his personal investments as collateral for the $10 million loan he and wife Kristen Del Biaggio received in November.

Those documents showed that Del Biaggio had a brokerage account in the amount of $20 million at San Francisco-based investment bank Merriman Curhan Ford, the lawsuit claims.

But those documents turned out to be forged, and the account was actually not Del Biaggio's, according to the suit.

Instead, the account belonged to another unidentified bank client whose name was allegedly removed from the statements by Merriman Curhan Ford broker David Scott Cacchione and replaced with Del Biaggio's name.

The suit claims the accounts were then passed off to Modern Bank as Del Biaggio's. The deception was uncovered only when he stopped supplying the required monthly account statements that were part of his contract with the bank, the lawsuit said.

Kristen Del Biaggio, Cacchione and the Merriman Curhan Ford firm are also named as defendants in Modern Bank's lawsuit.

Lawyers for the other defendants did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Del Biaggio also is named as a defendant in two other lawsuits filed over the past week by other financial institutions claiming they were duped into forking over big loans based on misrepresentations of his wealth.

Heritage Bank of Commerce, a San Jose-based bank co-founded by Del Biaggio's father, has accused him of using similar tactics to secure a $4 million loan in December. DGB Investments Inc., a San Jose-based investment firm, is also suing Del Biaggio over a $3 million loan he received in November under what the firm says were false pretenses.

The catalyst for the lawsuits was a regulatory filing last week by Merriman Curhan Ford that the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission were investigating an unidentified broker and client for allegedly using the account information of other clients to obtain loans.

The firm, which is named as a defendant in all three of the latest lawsuits, said it is cooperating fully with the federal investigations.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press