Scammer solstice

Football meets fraud in Georgia. Plus, Wazzu wackiness, and Tim Donaghy gets busted up.
By MATT TAIBBI  |  June 17, 2009

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It's summertime, and the scammin' is easy. What else can explain the recent appearance of a former NFL player in court to face 22 counts of . . . wait for it . . . mortgage fraud!

Arthur James Marshall, a former University of Georgia wide receiver who spent five years playing for the Broncos and the Giants, was arrested last week in Miami after a federal grand jury indicted him on charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and mail fraud. After Marshall retired from football in the mid '90s, he moved to the Augusta, Georgia, area and opened four real-estate and construction businesses. The indictment charges that Marshall went to banks and gave them phony documents — pre-approval letters, sales contracts, and dummy financial statements — in order to qualify for loans.

He's also accused of gutting a couple in a Money Pit–style scam, taking $100,000 in a deal to build them a house, then largely blowing off the work and refusing to transfer the title. Beyond that, one of Marshall's companies filed for bankruptcy last August, claiming it owed $10 million to creditors.

Here's the thing: Marshall must have been in really rough shape if he even had to rip off mortgage firms. After all, for most of the last decade, banks were giving out million-dollar mortgage packages to every meth addict and coked-up lot lizard who came through their front doors. Maybe it's not a coincidence that the indictments involve cases from 2007 and 2008, after the financial world realized that it should probably only lend money to people who actually could pay it back.

All in all, Marshall is accused of stealing more than $1 million. This is a creative crime for an ex-athlete — you have to give him that. While we're at it, let's give him 37 points, too.

Bicycle thieves
Here's another one you don't get very often. A pair of Washington State football players, Tyree Toomer and LeAndre Daniels, were suspended from the team in connection with the alleged theft of four bicycles.

Sometimes one wishes that college football players would be taught the niceties of the criminal code, so they would know how to avoid getting unnecessary charges tacked on to their records. For instance, in this case, the two players were apparently seen leaving a gated area underneath a dormitory with the bicycles. They were also seen going into a house under construction and coming out with a hacksaw. Because they entered the house to take the saw, they'll probably now get a residential burglary and a second-degree burglary charge in addition to second- and third-degree theft charges. All for taking some bikes.

The two 19 year olds were arrested by campus police (who, incidentally, found the bikes at their apartment) and suspended indefinitely. Give the suckers 20 points apiece — and bus fare.

Pokey problems
And then there's Tim Donaghy, the former NBA referee who was part of one of the biggest sports-gambling scandals ever, right up there with Pete Rose, the Boston College point-shaving scandal, and, hell, even Shoeless Joe and the Black Sox.

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