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Thursday, April 19, 2001
Sixers: John Croce fired after theft caught on tape

PHILADELPHIA – Pat Croce thought he was going to watch a videotape of a player the Philadelphia 76ers were after. Instead, he said he saw his brother taking money from Allen Iverson's pants in the locker room.

John Croce was dismissed as conditioning coach of the Sixers in January after general manager Billy King showed Pat Croce, the team president and part-owner, tape of the alleged theft.

"There is no controversy," Pat Croce said Tuesday. "There was an issue, a painful issue and it was put to an end immediately."

King authorized videotaping in the locker rooms at practice and home and away games after players complained of missing money. Pat Croce said the team used surveillance cameras as early as a year ago but wouldn't discuss it further.

Dave Coskey, senior vice president, said the team will not comment about the use of any surveillance equipment for security purposes.

Neither the 76ers nor Iverson pressed criminal charges against John Croce.

The Sixers originally announced that John Croce had resigned Jan. 12 to pursue other work. Attempts by The Associated Press to reach John Croce were not successful Tuesday. A phone number for him could not be found.

Pat Croce said he first heard of the matter when King showed him the videotape, taken at a road game between mid-December and early January.

"I looked at Billy, I looked back at the tape and I looked at Billy and he was hurt. He couldn't even talk," Croce said. "I didn't know what to say. I felt sick, physically sick. Then I felt angry. I couldn't believe what I was seeing."

Pat Croce said he then told King to confront his brother, investigate the matter and resolve it quickly.

"I met with John that night," Pat Croce said. "I talked to my brother as a brother and an employer. I was so angry, but at the same time I was concerned. There's something seriously wrong here if you are going to do something for a couple bucks. It didn't make sense. I thought he needs help."

Pat Croce said he called his brother back the next day, offered a medical suggestion and hasn't spoken to him since. He went down to Washington on Jan. 12 to personally apologize to Iverson.

"He said, 'It's nothing, Pat,' " Pat Croce said.

Iverson, in Toronto for a game against the Raptors on Tuesday night, declined to comment after a morning practice.

Pat Croce said Iverson is the only player he knows to have lost money, but didn't know how much was taken.

"Whether it's $2 or $42, it doesn't matter," he said.

John Croce was in his fifth season with the Sixers, and second as physical conditioning coach. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, holding degrees from St. Joseph's University and West Chester University.

John Croce joined the Sixers after serving two years as a health and physical education teacher and coach at Valley Forge Military Academy and Junior College.

He was replaced by James Lloyd on Jan. 26.

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