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Senators defenceman Chris Phillips sues former agent

Ottawa Senators defenceman Chris Phillips.

The Canadian Press

Ottawa Senators defenceman Chris Phillips has filed a $7.5-million lawsuit in connection with alleged shoddy investments and unauthorized real estate deals, which he blames on his former agent, who is also being sued by another NHL player, Dany Heatley.

Phillips accuses Stacey McAlpine, as well as McAlpine's parents, Gerald and Eugenia, of breaches of contract, trust and fiduciary duty as well as conversion, fraud, fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation, conspiracy, oppression and unjust enrichment.

Phillips' amended 24-page statement of claim, which was filed in Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa this summer, alleges the McAlpine family used corporate entities Presidential Suites Inc., Waterfront Development Inc. and NSEM Management Inc. as a "sham, cloak or alter ego" in order to protect themselves from personal liability.

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Phillips notes he gave the McAlpine family "greater discretion" over his money, but that he was "vulnerable" and trusted them because of their long relationship.

"Chris is angry and disappointed with the conduct of Stacey McAlpine," said Peter Mantas, Phillips' lawyer. "He trusted Mr. McAlpine. … He will vigorously pursue this litigation against Mr. McAlpine."

McAlpine was the player agent and financial adviser for Phillips and Heatley, who is suing for $11-million, but he is no longer on the National Hockey League Players' Association list of certified agents. He denies the allegations in his three-page statement of defence filed last week and is countersuing Phillips for $230,000 in unpaid fees and expenses. The counterclaim describes the amount of money Phillips is seeking in damages as "excessive, false, and shameful."

Contacted Wednesday in the Northwestern Ontario community of Clearwater Bay, where he is working as a firefighter and tending to vehicles and boats at the Squeaky Clean Detail Shop, McAlpine was reluctant to talk. "I just don't feel it's appropriate or fair to comment at this time," he said.

McAlpine's parents also deny the allegations in their statement of defence filed last month and have distanced themselves from their son, accusing him of setting up a corporate structure where they would act as "figureheads" in order to protect the privacy of his professional hockey player clients.

Phillips' lawsuit alleges he began making money transfers in 1999 to one of the McAlpine companies believing it would be invested in "secure, interest yielding term deposits with the Bank of America or another similar, major financial institution in Canada or the United States."

Over the years, cheques, bank drafts and transfers of large sums of money – one was worth more than $1-million – added up to almost $5.5-million (U.S.) and $120,000 (Canadian). But in October of 2010, Phillips alleges he could no longer access the money and that the McAlpines refused to give it back or account for it.

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The lawsuit further alleges that the money was used in "real estate speculation" that Phillips previously refused to get involved with. One was a condominium in Ottawa, the same building where Heatley alleges a deal for a penthouse suite went sour. Phillips also alleges his money wound up in a property in Kenora, Ont., known as Deception Bay. In his statement of defence, McAlpine said he financed the Deception Bay deal with his own money and that of his four children.

Court documents show there are liens against the Ottawa condo and the Deception Bay property.

Heatley's lawsuit against McAlpine, his parents and the same group of companies was filed last month in Alberta and alleges he was drawn into failed real estate ventures and that money was siphoned from his bank accounts. McAlpine's statement of defence in the Heatley case was filed this week and asks that the claims against him be dismissed. Acting on his own behalf, McAlpine is also seeking $217,529 (U.S.) as reimbursement for fees and trading card negotiations.

Phillips was drafted first overall by the Ottawa Senators in 1996. He has spent his career in Ottawa, where he is an assistant captain. Phillips and Heatley were teammates in Ottawa and are now represented by agent J.P. Barry. Heatley is now with the Minnesota Wild.

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