Former personal assistant sentenced for stealing nearly $5M from NBA, UArizona star

PHOENIX – A former personal assistant to Richard Jefferson was sentenced Tuesday to nearly six years in prison for stealing about $5 million from the former NBA and University of Arizona star, authorities said.

Theodore Itsvan Joseph Kritza, 46, was handed a 70-month sentence by a U.S. District Court judge in Tucson, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona said in a press release Thursday.

Kritza, who previously pleaded guilty to bank and wire fraud, was also ordered to pay Jefferson $4.8 million in restitution.

“For years, Theodore Kritza preyed upon the trust he gained with the victim and defrauded him of his hard-earned money and savings, choosing greed over trust. Today, Kritza found out the cost of his scheme,” Sean Kaul, special agent in charge of the FBI Phoenix Field Office, said in the release.

“This sentencing sends a clear message that fraud is a serious crime, with serious consequences.”

The release said the victim was a former NBA player without identifying Jefferson, but the current ESPN analyst has been identified as the victim in numerous media reports.

While working as Jefferson’s assistant from 2005 to 2012, Kritza maintained a lavish lifestyle off funds stolen from Jefferson’s salary, endorsement contract and a condo sale, according to prosecutors.

He also forged Jefferson’s signature to obtain business loans, credit lines and power of attorney.

Prosecutors say Kritza, who lived in Chandler for a time, spent freely on cars, homes, vacations and private school tuition for his children, and he attempted to purchase an airplane.

Jefferson played 17 seasons as a small forward with eight NBA teams, including his first seven with the New Jersey Nets. He was with the Cleveland Cavaliers when they won the 2016 championship. He retired in 2018.

He won a gold medal with the U.S. basketball team at the 2004 Summer Olympics.

After graduating from Moon Valley High School in Phoenix, Jefferson played three season for the University of Arizona, including on the team that lost to Duke in the 2001 national championship game.

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