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Ex-football players being sentenced for tax fraud, wire fraud

Professional football fans in Massachusetts and around the New England region may be familiar with the name Michael Bennett. Bennett, who played for several years in the NFL, maybe most notably with the Minnesota Vikings, pleaded guilty to wire fraud earlier this year and was sentenced last week to serve 15 months in prison for his crime.

Among his co-defendants were other former football players, one of whom pleaded guilty to a tax crime in the form of theft of government money and identity theft by cashing a tax refund check in excess of $10,000 that was not his.

Bennett's case was different, but still landed him a not-insignificant federal prison sentence. Bennett had sent an email to a financial services store saying that he had a bank account with $9 million in it. He wanted to get a loan for $200,000 with the stipulation that he would pay back $280,000 after a few months.

However, unknown to the former player, the store's staff had been replaced by FBI officials who recorded everything with audio and video equipment. They checked on Bennett's claim that his bank account had $9 million and discovered it had a zero balance.

Bennett came to the store to collect part of the money he thought that he was getting in the form of a $150,000 cashier's check, at which point he was arrested. Agents said that he told them he had altered his bank statement to misrepresent the amount of money he had because of a desperate financial situation. Unfortunately for him, his situation is about to get more desperate as he must report to federal prison to serve his sentence within the next two months.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Former NFL player sentenced to federal prison for fraud," Paula McMahon, Oct. 26, 2012

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