A Morgan Stanley office in Southern California foiled a tax-refund check scheme involving Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss.
The two men accused of the crime acquired Buss' $161,171 California tax-refund check, which had been stolen from the U.S. mail, according to prosecutors.
Kenneth Reeves, 42, and Dwayne Kellum, 38, both of Long Beach, California, contacted Morgan Stanley, claiming to be Buss' son and opened an account in the name of ``Jerry Buss.''
The scheme was spoiled when the Morgan Stanley office realized that Buss doesn't have a son named Jerry. The office then alerted the FBI.
As it turns out, Kellum was convicted last month for stealing checks belonging to a trust set up by Fred MacMurray, the late star of ``My Three Sons,'' and his wife, actress June MacMurray, according to the FBI.
Reeves and Kellum both pleaded guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud charges in connection with the Buss case. Kellum faces a maximum of 28 years in prison and Reeves 10 years.
Buss is one of sports’ most successful owners. He bought the Lakers in 1979, the year Magic Johnson was acquired following a well-orchestrated trade with the then-New Orleans Jazz, enabling the Lakers to get the NBA’s No. 1 pick in the college basketball draft. Since then, the Lakers have enjoyed unprecedented success and have emerged as the league’s most valuable franchise.
In Johnson’s rookie year, the Lakers went on to win the NBA championship in 1979, and Johnson immediately emerged as the NBA’s most charismatic player. The team went on to win five NBA titles under Johnson’s rein, and the team is still winning championships, having won the last two league titles with all-stars Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, and coach Phil Jackson.