Friday, February 01, 2002

Agent guilty of swindling football pros

Taylor, others lost up to $14 million

The Associated Press

        GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sports agent William “Tank” Black was convicted of federal fraud charges Thursday for swindling up to $14 million from the professional football players he represented.

        A federal jury convicted Black of defrauding the federal government, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

        Black's co-defendant, Linda Wilson, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and defrauding the government.

        Black faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced May6. Wilson faces up to five years in prison.

        Black's attorney, Jon Uman, vowed to appeal. “I'm extremely disappointed,” Uman said.

        Prosecutor Jerry Sanford pointed to the NFL players who testified that Black used his position as their agent to steal millions from them through bogus investments.

        Last week, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor testified he was swindled out of most of his $5million signing bonus by Black.

        “I trusted him with my life, with my daughter's life,” Taylor said.

        Ike Hilliard, a New York Giants receiver, testified he was bilked out of as much as $2.5million by Black, and former player Robert Brooks said he lost $2.5million by investing in a bogus car-title loan company.

        The Securities and Exchange Commission shut down the company in 1999, calling it an illegal pyramid scheme. By then, it was too late for Brooks.

        “I gave Tank 30 days notice (to get me out of Cash 4 Titles), and two weeks later, he said some guys got arrested or whatever and I couldn't get my money,” Brooks testified.

        “They placed their trust with him and he betrayed every single one of them,” Sanford said. “This man has no integrity, no honor, no respect, no remorse.”

        Uman argued his client never stole anything but was a victim of bad advice from his business lawyers.

        “The government wants to paint a picture of Black as an extremely intelligent man who had control over this sophisticated overseas empire,” Uman said. “He did nothing but follow the advice of his attorneys.”

        Earlier Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Stephan P. Mickle dismissed charges against Black's secretary, Lisa Adams, saying prosecutors had failed to prove her guilt.

        Last summer, Black was sentenced to six years, 10 months in federal prison for laundering $1.1 million for a drug ring in Detroit.


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