Slam Dunk founder Bobby Jacobs arrested again

June 24, 2009

Robert F. “Bobby” Jacobs, the former kingpin of the Slam Dunk to the Beach basketball tournament, has been charged in an apparent revenge scheme aimed at three people who helped prosecutors put him in prison on fraud charges in 2007.

State police detectives arrested Jacobs, 52, of Milford on Friday, June 19, after a monthlong investigation. He was charged with three counts of felony stalking of two men and one woman by sending letters to their supervisors alleging sexual misconduct. Under state law, stalking is a Class G felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Jacobs is charged with three counts, so he’s facing up to six years in prison.

Jacobs, who served less than one year on fraud charges related to misappropriation of Slam Dunk tournament funds, had been out of prison on probation since late 2008.

Jacobs also faces a violation of probation charge, which means he could be subject to serving the remaining time from his original convictions – as much as three years.

The violation of probation hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, July 7, in Kent County Superior Court, said Jason Miller, Delaware Department of Justice spokesman.

The scheme unfolds

Sgt. Walter Newton, state police spokesman, said letters were sent to the Cape Henlopen School District accusing a female teacher of inappropriate contact with a student, to Wesley College accusing a coach of similar misconduct and to Legislative Hall in Dover alleging one of the administration’s department secretaries acted inappropriately.

Letters were also sent to the civic association where the Wesley College coach lived. Police would not release names of the three victims.

State police, working in conjunction with Dover police, were able to put all three people together as former members of the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association, the organization that oversaw the Slam Dunk tournament. Investigators also found that the woman had been an administrative assistant for the Slam Dunk tournament and the two men had served on its board of directors. The three had involvement in bringing to light the misappropriation of funds, Newton said.

Newton said the name signed on the letters appeared to be fictitious and police were able to link Jacobs to the letters because of the association of the trio with the tournament.

On May 22, police executed a search warrant at Jacobs’ Milford home and seized his computer. A forensic examination revealed evidence implicating Jacobs, Newton said.

Jacobs was arraigned and committed to Sussex Correctional Institution in default of $9,000 cash bail.

Fast fall from grace

The second arrest adds to the Jacobs saga and fall from grace as promoter and founder of one of the most prestigious high school basketball tournaments in the nation. Slam Dunk attracted the likes of NBA superstar LeBron James and numerous high-profile college and professional coaches. It was also a financial boon during a time when the resort area was in need of a cash infusion.

Jacobs, who entered a no-contest plea as part of a plea agreement with state prosecutors, was sentenced in January 2008 and ended up serving eight months in prison with more than five years of probation.

He was also ordered to make restitution of nearly $200,000 to several parties and county and state agencies, including the Delaware Auditor’s Office and the Delaware Department of Justice.

He pleaded guilty to one count of misapplication of funds and four counts of second-degree forgery for forging signatures to cash more than $65,000 in checks from a tournament account. Eight other charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Jacobs, who staged the Christmas holiday tournament at Cape Henlopen High School, ran the event for 14 years until abruptly canceling the tournament in 2004, citing health reasons. Jacobs disappeared from public view, and not long after, questions surfaced concerning tournament finances. Vendors also complained about nonpayment of bills. After an intensive investigation by the Delaware Auditor’s Office, improprieties were uncovered.

Jacobs, who was arrested in Miami, Fla., by U.S. Marshals on July 17, 2007, was the subject of a 14-month nationwide manhunt. In August, a Kent County grand jury returned an indictment against Jacobs for one count of theft greater than $50,000 and 12 counts of conspiracy.

After he was extradited back to Delaware in August 2007, people were shocked to see the bearded, longhaired Jacobs, who appeared to have aged dramatically. He had been known for his clean-shaven looks.

He owed thousands of dollars in unpaid bills from the 2003 tournament, including more than $12,000 to the Breakers Hotel in Rehoboth Beach and more than $8,000 to basketball officials.

The tournament received in excess of $840,000 in state grants from 1994 to 2003, according to the state Controller General’s Office.

The budget for the tournament was nearly $750,000 per year, with as much as $100,000 in taxpayer money from the City of Lewes, the state and Sussex County. The remainder came from sponsors, ticket sales, donations, the program book and sales.

State Auditor Tom Wagner said the appropriation of more than $270,000 from July 2003 to December 2004 in tournament funds was termed questionable. Wagner said checks were written made payable to cash and withdrawals were made without any documentation.

About $87,000 was run up in credit card debt and a line of credit account without any supporting documentation to establish whether the funds were used for tournament purposes.

When Jacobs was sentenced in January 2008 in Kent County Superior Court, he pledged he would spend the rest of his life working to pay back the money owed from tournament debts.

Newton said after release from prison, Jacobs was living at his parents’ home, and he was unaware of any attempt at making restitution.