Ex-NFL player pleads guilty to wire fraud in FBI sting

Sun Sentinel on August 7, 2012 released the following:

“By Paula McMahon

A former NFL first-round draft pick who was arrested in an FBI fraud sting earlier this year has pleaded guilty to his role in the crime, court records show.

A second former NFL player arrested in the same sting is scheduled for a change of plea hearing next week in federal court in Miami, according to court records.

Former Oakland Raiders running back Michael Antwon Bennett pleaded guilty last week in federal court in Fort Lauderdale to one count of wire fraud.

He was caught in an operation by the FBI, which set up an undercover financial services store in North Miami between February and April. An undercover agent worked behind the counter and the store was equipped with audio and video surveillance equipment.

Bennett, who turns 34 next week, admitted that he had sent an email to the store fraudulently claiming that he had $9 million in the bank so he could obtain a $200,000 loan, court records show.

Bennett went to the store on April 18 and signed a loan agreement to borrow $200,000 and repay $280,000 after three months. When agents checked the bank account, they found that Bennett had opened an account there about a month earlier but it had a zero balance and there had never been any money in the account.

When Bennett returned to the store and picked up a $150,000 cashier’s check on April 30, he was arrested. FBI agents said he admitted that he altered the bank statement to give the false impression that he had millions of dollars in his account.

The maximum penalty for the offense is 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 but prosecutors have agreed to recommend a punishment on the lower end of the sentencing guidelines, which are still being calculated, when he is sentenced in October.

Meanwhile another NFL player, William Joseph, is scheduled for a change of plea hearing on Aug. 14 in Miami. The terms of the proposed plea agreement will not be made public until the court hearing.

Joseph, 32, of Miramar, was indicted in May on five federal charges including aggravated identity theft, possession of false identification documents, theft of government money and forgery of U.S. Treasury checks.

Federal authorities said Joseph cashed a $10,088 income tax refund check that was not his and that he did not have permission to cash.

Joseph played for the New York Giants between 2003 and 2007, then spent three years with the Raiders.

Former Syracuse player Louis Gachelin, 31, of Miramar, pleaded guilty earlier this year to theft of government money and aggravated identity theft in the same investigation.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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