Fraud and Professional Athletes: Ohio Man Charged with Defrauding NFL Players in Horse-Racing Scheme
As first reported by Cleveland.com, several former Cleveland Browns players, one current Denver Broncos receiver and one San Diego Chargers running back player fell victim to a horse-racing scheme carried out by Jonathan Pippin, 29, of Logan, Ohio.
Those players would later be identified as Chansi Stuckey (Cleveland Browns), Reggie Hodges (Cleveland Browns), Jordan Norwood (Denver Broncos) and Danny Woodhead (San Diego Chargers).
Combined, the players lost a little over $300,000.00, which were allegedly used to pay for expenses related to the strip clubs and gambling and the purchase of a Cadillac Escalade. Pippin faces two counts of wire fraud and money laundering charges, and I would expect additional charges relates to securities laws.
What was the scheme?
Pippin created a company called PJH Horse Racing, Inc. (PJH) that claimed to be in the business of purchasing race horses and ownership interests in race horses. Once PJH was established, Pippin then solicited investments from the athletes by misrepresenting to them that there was a well-known race horse investor also involved in the PJH investment. In reality, there was no such investor.
In return for the players' investment in PJH, they would receive a share of the winnings from the horses and that the investment included "stud rights." When one of the players began asking about the horses, Pippin silenced the questions by hinting that the transaction related to the horses were all "under the table."
To make sure he didn't leave anything out of scheme, Pippin created a fake email address with the mystery investor and fabricated a chain of emails between himself to give the false impression to the players that he was properly investing their money.
Over time, Pippin would slowly drain the PJH account by transferring money to his personal bank account and using the money for personal expenses.
Pippin plead guilty and a plea agreement is expected. [Click here for the full legal complaint.]
Chris McCauley, CPA, Esq. is the founder of McCauley Investment Risk & Legal Consulting PLLC, a Seattle-based law firm dedicated to helping professional athletes guard their earnings and investments. Chris is an attorney licensed to practice in Alabama and Washington and a CPA licensed to practice in Washington and North Carolina.