Miami Heat point guard Mario Chalmers is known for his steals. Thanks to quick hands and crafty defense, he was near the top of the league with 118 on the court this year. Chalmers' dad, meanwhile, excelled at a very different kind of theft, at least according to a local sports agent. David Sugarman has sued Ronnie Chalmers in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court and accused him of lifting confidential, proprietary information from Sugarman's agency so he could poach his clients.
"We know documents were taken from the office because we have video evidence," Darren Heitner, Sugarman's attorney, tells Riptide.
William David Cornwell, an attorney representing Chalmers, counters, "The lawsuit lacks merit... Sugarman was not honest with Ronnie when they formulated their business plan and after they began working together."
Chalmers and Sugarman went into business together last December. It seemed like a mutually beneficial relationship: Chalmers, a former University of Kansas director of operations with a kid in the NBA, had plenty of b-ball cachet. Sugarman, a colorful figure in Miami Beach who once ran for city commission, owns SugarTime, a successful sports agency.
Sugarman says he brought on Chalmers as a manager and 50/50 owner in part because he promised to bring his son on as a client.
But instead, the elder Chalmers actually lost the agency business by badmouthing Sugarman to clients, setting up unauthorized deals, botching a meeting with a University of Florida recruit by forgetting his name, and skipping another important date, Sugarman claims in the suit.
Then, on April 17, surveillance cameras caught him taking boxes of documents full of "confidential and proprietary information" from SugarTime's offices, Sugarman says. The next day, Chalmers sent an email resigning from the agency. Sugarman says the information Chalmers took could help him illegally compete with SugarTime.
"He got trade secrets, including recruits being targeted by the agency," Heitner says.
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But Cornwell says Chalmers did nothing more than break off a bad business deal. "Ronnie eventually... tried to end the doomed relationship amicably," he says.
"Unfortunately, Mr. Sugarman has taken things too far. Now we will respond accordingly, and Mr. Sugarman will either withdraw his false allegations or he will be held accountable for them."
Sugarman is asking for nearly $20,000 in damages and lost expenses, plus punitive damages.