Former Minnesota Viking Michael Bennett has pleaded guilty to his role in a South Florida tax refund and identity theft scheme. Court records show Bennett pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. As part of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend less than the possible 20-year sentence.
Prosecutors say the FBI operated an undercover check-cashing store in North Miami used by Bennett and seven others including two other former football players from February through April. The group allegedly cashed about $500,000 in fraudulent refund checks.
Former Oakland Raiders and New York Giants defensive tackle William Joseph has a change of plea hearing scheduled for next week. Louis Gachelin, who played professionally in Europe, previously pleaded guilty to theft charges.
The Smoking Gun has broken the news that Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who is also a minister, has been the victim of an extortion plot by his ex-stripper former mistress.
The FBI arrested 28-year-old Alexis Adams and co-conspirator Marcus Shaw in connection with a scheme to blackmail the former NBA star out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by threatening to go public with the affair and release graphic photographs of his genitalia to “the vultures in the media.”
According to a sworn affidavit by FBI agent Beth Alvarez, Jackson and Adams had an affair six years ago while she was working at a gentleman’s club in New York and he was an announcer for the New Jersey Nets. The affair lasted less than 12 months, ending when Jackson, a father of four, refused to leave his wife of 16 years.
In April, Jackson was approached by a man he did not know at a hotel in Memphis. The man showed Jackson a folder with the compromising photographs and a CD he said contained voice mail messages Jackson had left for Adams during their relationship. The man told Jackson he had discovered the items in a storage locker that he had recently purchased. Jackson paid $5,000 for materials, which he immediately destroyed.
Later that month, someone using the name “Mark Smith” (and the email account firstname.lastname@example.org) sent a message to Jackson’s wife giving her the opportunity to buy the pictures or else they would be released to the media. Jackson responded himself and ultimately offered $200,000 to make the entire situation go away.
During this process, the extortion scheme was reported to the police, who traced the email account to Shaw through his IP address. Using a subpoena of Shaw’s phone and text message records, authorities were able to determine Adams was also personally involved in the extortion plot.
Both Adams and Shaw have since been arrested. Shaw was convicted of aggravated robbery in 1996 and then arrested in 2005 for murder, robbery, aggravated assault and kidnapping, although those charges were later dismissed.
“I recognize the extremely poor judgment that I used both in having an affair six years ago–including the embarrassing communication I exhibited during that time–and in attempting to deal with the extortion scheme at first by myself,” Jackson said in a statement.”I made some egregious errors. I apologize for any embarrassment I may have caused my family, friends and, of course, the Warriors.”
“Although not condoning his previous actions that led to the extortion attempt, the Warriors fully support Coach Jackson during this time and thank law enforcement authorities and the FBI for their prompt assistance in helping Coach Jackson and his family,” the Warriors said in their own statement.
A financial adviser for Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney and the adviser’s lover have been arrested on federal wire fraud charges that allege they swindled about $2.2 million from the lineman.
Eva Weinberg, 48, of Los Angeles, and Michael Stern, 51, of Miami, were arrested last week by FBI agents who believe the couple were trying to flee the United States.
Stern appeared in a Miami courtroom Wednesday and will be extradited in the coming weeks to California, where he and Weinberg face charges.
“Mr. Stern denies he violated the law and it’s his position he and Ms. Weinberg didn’t steal any money from Mr. Freeney,” said Stern’s attorney, Henry Bell.
Weinberg worked as Freeney’s financial adviser for the past two years after leaving Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch financial management division. She handled his personal finances, real estate investments and business dealings involving a Hollywood restaurant, Rolling Stone LA.
About $2.2 million was wired in nearly 140 separate transactions from Freeney’s bank account by Weinberg to Arm’s Reach Consulting, a company owned by Stern, between June 2010 and October 2011, authorities said. Freeney didn’t approve the transfers and was unaware Stern was the recipient.
Stern told a confidential informant in recorded conversations that the money transferred to him by Weinberg was to be used to pay his bills and personal expenses, according to the affidavit. He also said $1.5 million was going to be put toward buying a private jet, court records show.
The informant also told investigators that Stern intended to flee the U.S., possibly to the Bahamas, Trinidad or Israel, and had plans to travel to Los Angeles to get Weinberg before she was arrested.
Freeney, 32, has recorded 102 1/2 sacks in his 10-year professional career and is scheduled to make a base salary of $14 million in 2012.
Betting on the NCAA Tournament has surpassed the Super Bowl in legal wagering totals. The first four days of the tournament alone approach the Super Bowl’s betting handle. USA Today’s findings emerge just days before Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State and Kansas square off in the Final Four on Saturday. The championship game is Monday.
Now remember that’s all the on-the-level transactions in Nevada. Off-the-grid office pools and shady offshore outfits contribute to Americans illegally betting $2.5 billion on the NCAA Tournament each year, the FBI estimates.
In another indication of the tournament’s greater allure for gamblers, a survey found that 65 percent of office workers participate in a workplace March Madness pool, compared to 58 percent for the Super Bowl.
It was announced yesterday that the two men who attacked San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day will have their faces plastered on 300 billboards across Southern California. Stow, 42, was brutally attacked after leaving a Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers game and was rendered unconscious when he was blindsided by a punch to the back of the head. Two men proceeded to pummel and kick him in the head as he lay unconscious on the pavement. They fled in a four-door sedan with a woman and male child about 10 years of age, according to witnesses.
Stow’s friend, Corey Macial, was with him at the game and witnessed the attack saying it was unprovoked and appeared to take place solely due to the Giants gear Stow and his friends were wearing. Stow has been in a comatose state ever since.
Lamar Advertising will donate 300 billboards in an effort to catch Stow’s attackers and bring them to justice. The signs also note that a $100,000 reward is in place and displays phone numbers for both the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI. Anyone with information regarding the two suspects is urged to call the Los Angeles Police Department at 877-527-3247.
The FBI released documents yesterday stating that New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner assisted the agency in two investigations in the years leading up to his pardon by President Ronald Reagan on a campaign-contributions conviction. The Associated Press and other news organizations requested the FBI file under the Freedom of Information Act following Steinbrenner’s death in July and totaled about 800 pages.
Reagan pardoned Steinbrenner for his convictions in a case involving campaign donations to President Richard Nixon and other politicians. The documents that were released showed Steinbrenner’s blamed his illegal contribution to Nixon on bad legal advice. They also showed that he assisted as an undercover operation that ultimately led to an arrest, prosecution and conviction in a terrorist probe. The details of it all are still classified as the FBI label it “a sensitive security matter.”
The documents do state that Steinbrenner assisted the bureau from 1978 to 1983 and it did place the lives of his family and himself in jeopardy.
On April 16, we posted the news that the FBI had shutdown three of the biggest online gambling sites on the internet. The FBI also said it was indicting 11 defendants including the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses. The U.S. attorney’s office is also seeking $3 billion in damages.
Now what might be the final deathblow to poker-as-spectator-sport, ESPN has responded to the indictments leveled against online poker sites by removing all poker-related programming and advertising from its family of networks for the near future. The 2011 World Series of Poker is still scheduled to be broadcast but in the meantime you will see less poker related advertising and programming, while the decision going forward after the World Series of Poker has yet to be finalized.
“We are aware of the indictment only through what has been announced publicly,” ESPN said in a statement. “For the immediate future, we are making efforts to remove related advertising and programming pending further review.”
In a major crackdown on online gambling, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office have charged the founders of the three biggest Internet poker sites with fraud, illegal gambling and laundering billions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds. The FBI said it’s indicting 11 defendants including the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses.
The feds also seized five Internet domain names used by the companies to host their poker games and issued restraining orders against 75 bank accounts in 14 countries used to process payments. The U.S. attorney’s office is also seeking $3 billion in damages. The defendants could face maximum penalties of 30 years in prison $1 million fines.
Visitors to FullTiltPoker.com and AbsolutePoker.com Saturday were met with a notice from the FBI declaring the domain names had been seized by federal authorities along with a reminder that illegal gambling is a federal crime. PokerStars posted a statement early Saturday through its computer software and on Twitter saying the company has had to suspend real money play to customers based in the U.S.
The FBI presented Portland Trail Blazers forward Gerald Wallace, who really wants to be an FBI agent, with a hat, sweatshirt and a honorary badge at a recent practice. When “Crash” got to Portland he mentioned he’d like to join the FBI when he gets done in the NBA. So, special agent in charge Art Balizan, assistant special agent in charge Alan Peters, public affairs specialist Beth Anne Steele and retired Portland FBI agents Bob Hanis and Dick Bittner showed up and encouraged the Alabama native to keep the bureau in mind.
To qualify as a special agent, an applicant must be a U.S. citizen, between 23 and 37 years old, have a four-year college degree and at least three years of professional work experience. That means “Crash” would have to return to school as he left after only one year at the University of Alabama.
Shaquille O’Neal is impressed.