FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - September 17, 2020 - According to an online news report posted on independent.co.uk, law enforcement officials reported that a former professional football player was arrested and charged with engaging in a plot to defraud the federal government's coronavirus relief fund, also knows and the Paycheck Protection Program. The former NFL player was arrested on Thursday. According to court records reported by the news report, the 31-year-old former NFL player from St. Petersburg, Florida, has been charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, and wire fraud.
Law enforcement is alleging the suspect engaged in filing false applications for over $24,000,000 in COVID-19 business relief funds offered by the federal government. According to law enforcement and prosecutors, the suspect collected over $1,200,000 for a company the suspect owns. The suspect allegedly used the funds for purchasing over $100,000 in luxury goods, and the suspect spent over $62,000 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
The suspect's lawyer, Diego Weiner, stated in an interview with The Associated Press that it was typical for professional sports athletes to be financially taken advantage of by some people who are thought to be serving the athlete's best interests. The attorney is hoping the court of public opinion will give his client the benefit of the doubt.
According to the news report, a man from Coral Springs allegedly began the scheme when he submitted falsified applications and documents to receive the federal government funds for his company. According to the criminal complaint, the 51-year-old Coral Springs man then started working with other people. In total, 11 people have been charged in connection to the scheme.
The former NFL player posted a $250,000 bond at his initial court hearing at the federal courthouse in Tampa, Florida. The criminal fraud case will be tried at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The suspect played in the NFL and was most known for his stint with the New York Jets until he was placed on the Jet's Injured Reserve List for a serious shoulder injury this past May. The suspect inked a. deal with the Jets, a two-year deal worth $5,000,000 back in 2019. However, the suspect was released from the Jets Injured Reserve List this past Tuesday.
The suspect also signed with the Kansas City Chiefs back in 2012. The suspect was an undrafted free agent and played for Louisville. The suspect also played for Washington and San Diego prior to being "claimed off waivers" by the Chicago Bears back in 2014, where he played five seasons with the Chicago Bears.
The Paycheck Protection Program is a federal small business loan that offers businesses forgivable loans to cover payroll and keep employees on staff and off of unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic and quarantine. The suspect is accused of defrauding the government over $1,200,000.