Former Duke menís basketball player Lance Thomas cited in jewelers lawsuit
The lawsuit against the former member of the Duke’s 2010 national championship team was filled in January this year at an Austin, Texas court. Lance Thomas previously played for the Austin Toros of the NBA Developmental League.
According to the lawsuit, Lance Thomas made a $30,000 down payment on five diamond encrusted jewelry pieces, in his senior year on Dec. 21, 2009, that had a total worth of $97,800. The purchase was facilitated through a $67,800 credit from the jewelers, Rafaello & Co., but Lance Thomas never met the rest of the payment.
Rafaello & Co., is a "deluxe" custom jewelry dealer and also does business under the name of A+A Diamonds Ltd.,with clientele that includes various athletes including New York Knicks’s Carmelo Anthony, as well as celebrities such as Jamie Foxx and Don Cheadle.
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was cited in a similar lawsuit by Rafaello & Co. last year after he bought $240,000 worth of jewelry between January and May 2010. The purchases were made shortly after the former Oklahoma State player Dez Bryant made public his decision of declaring for the 2010 NFL draft.
Lance Thomas started 39 games for the Blue Devils during 2009-2010 season. He went undrafted in NBA before being signed by the New Orleans Hornets last year.
Duke spokesman Jon Jackson confirmed that the university was aware of the lawsuit.
"We have been made aware of a lawsuit filed by a jeweler against former men's basketball player Lance Thomas and we are currently looking into the matter," stated Duke associate athletic director for media relations, Jon Jackson.
Lance Thomas’s agent John Spencer detailed to an Austin Attorney representing the player in the case, that he was unaware of any jewelry purchases made by the former Duke forward.
However, an attorney representing Rafaello & Co., cited that a purchase order slip that showed Lance Thomas agreed to an on the spot down payment covering 25 percent of the total cost of the items, with a overdue payment that was to be made within 15 days. Mike Bowers still how Lance Thomas managed to come up with the down payment.
The 24-year-old Lance Thomas made purchase on a black diamond necklace and a pendant representing Jesus’ head, a diamond cross, a diamond encrusted wristwatch, as well as a pair of diamond studs.
Although, Mike Bowers has no clue as to why Lance Thomas received credit from the firm, he claimed there is no doubt that the purchase was made by none other than Lance Thomas himself.
"It was a clean, clear-cut transaction between Mr. Thomas and my client, and I don't see anything that warrants me asking anything beyond that," stated Mike Bowers. “The terms here are clear."
The NCAA has very strict policies regarding student athletes receiving gifts or other facilities that are students.
A spokeswoman for the NCAA, Stacey Osburns stated the organization was aware of the situation and collaborating with Duke on the matter.