Former walk-on University of Oklahoma football player T.J. Hamilton claimed he had a deal with GNC to distribute nutritional supplements, and had invented a new type of material that could be used to make sports apparel — but most of the nearly $1 million he received from investors went to fuel his aspirations of becoming a country music star, state securities regulators claim.
“We think it was spent on cars, trips to Vegas and his music career,” said Michael Linscott, an attorney for investor Eileen Neer, who gave T.J. Hamilton $141,000 to invest in a line of sports clothing that the former wide receiver claimed to have invented using a new type of patented antibacterial fabric.
Investors claim Hamilton spent hundreds of dollars at high-end Oklahoma City metro-area restaurants with investors' money, including one $499 tab at Red Prime Steakhouse and another $472 bill at Musashi's Japanese Steakhouse.
The former wide receiver also paid $8,000 to a talent agent and more than $14,000 to a record producer, investors allege in court documents.
T.J. Hamilton paid a svelte, blonde model $1,400 for her appearance in a music video for his single “I Hate That Song.” (Editor's note: You can watch the music video for “I Hate That Song” below.)
The Oklahoma Department of Securities on Friday moved to seek a ban from selling securities against T.J. Hamilton, his father Timothy P. Hamilton Sr., and mother Gena Hamilton, as well as to impose civil penalties of $225,000 on the family.
Securities regulators believe the Hamiltons culled about $800,000 from investors.
Irving Faught, administrator for the Department of Securities, said the agency decided to take the Hamiltons to court to prevent them from continuing to do business in the state. Faught declined to comment further because of the pending litigation.
Kay Bridger-Riley, an attorney for the Hamilton family, called accusations of fraud “ridiculous.”
“We were aware (the Department of Securities) was investigating, but they have only heard one side of the story,” Bridger-Riley said. “We have been busy dealing with all of these lawsuits and haven't had time to gather the evidence that will vindicate T.J.”
Investors who wanted money from T.J. Hamilton and who believed he had a rich relative complained to the Department of Securities, causing the ensuing investigation, Bridger-Riley said.
“It makes me so sad because I don't think they have all the facts — they have just interviewed the people they have had put in front of them,” Bridger-Riley said of the Department of Securities action.
Several investors have also moved to file lawsuits against Hamilton and his parents over the past year, accusing the Hamiltons of using investors' money to pay for everything from payments to a record producer, hotel rooms and thousands of dollars in cash advances.
The lawsuits claim T.J. Hamilton, as well as his mother, Gena Hamilton and father Timothy Hamilton used investors' money to pay for expensive meals and hotel stays.
A large chunk of investors' money was spent on Hamilton's music career, one lawsuit filed in Oklahoma County in March by a group of Hamilton's investors claims.
Neer, an investor in Vinita, moved to sue T.J. Hamilton and his parents in May, claiming the Hamiltons owed her more than $134,000 on money she had invested in his company. Neer claims in her lawsuit that T.J. Hamilton told her he was in talks with Nike, Under Armor, Sports Authority and the owners of the Sacramento Kings basketball team to manufacture his products but her money was never used for legitimate business purposes.
Neer declined to talk to The Oklahoman about her lawsuit, but her attorney told The Oklahoman she trusted T.J. Hamilton after meeting him at a church in Vinita where his grandfather served as minister. She was also vulnerable after the recent death of her husband, Linscott said.
In press materials promoting his music career, T.J. Hamilton claims he slept in the front lobby of the YMCA in downtown Nashville while recording his first EP, “What You Do To Me.”
Investors claim in one lawsuit that Hamilton used thousands of dollars earmarked to invest in nutritional supplements for several stays at the four-diamond Loews Vanderbilt Nashville Hotel.
The Hamiltons eventually paid Neer back about $6,500 of her money.
“So far, we haven't gotten anything else back,” Linscott said. “I don't think Mrs. Neer would wish anything bad on the Hamilton family, but they ripped her off basically.”