America's scam

Eugene Lockhart funds his own buyout. Plus, why do pro athletes hate cabbies?
By MATT TAIBBI  |  September 9, 2009

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What a year for former New England Patriots and the criminal-justice system! Onetime Bill Parcells favorite Dave Meggett is in jail on multiple rape charges. Former fringe linebacker Eric Naposki got mixed up in a Little-Used Reserve Linebacker Always Rings Twice type of scenario in California and is in jail on a murder-for-hire beef, along with lover Nanette McNeal — both are accused of orchestrating the shooting of McNeal's millionaire husband, William McLaughlin.

Then came more bad news: in April, former Patriot standout running back John Stephens was arrested for rape for the second time (the first, in 1994, led to a guilty plea and probation) after a 51-year-old woman accused him of assaulting her. (Just this past week, Stephens died in an automobile accident.)

After all that, we have another former Patriot in trouble: Eugene Lockhart, a linebacker mostly known for his time with the Dallas Cowboys who played a couple of seasons with the Pats in the early '90s. Lockhart was indicted in Texas this past week, along with several other defendants, in what appears to be a wide-ranging federal case. He is charged with being part of a scam to rake in millions in fraudulent loans by using phony appraisals to inflate home prices.

Lockhart was employed by several mortgage companies, including America's Team Mortgage, America's Team Realty, and Cowboys Mortgage, although none of them had any connection to the Dallas Cowboys. (Odd that Jerry Jones would permit such blatant copyright infringement, isn't it?) Lockhart denies being involved in the scams, which the Feds say resulted in more than $20 million in bad loans. His one comment to reporters was, to be frank, humorous: "I wouldn't know how to do a mortgage fraud like that because I don't know that much about the business."

The Feds are apparently going to make a show of this case, so expect them to step on Lockhart's neck with both feet. They hit him with bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit both (he could get up to 30 years just on the conspiracy). In an era when federal authorities will be looking to appear vigilant with regard to mortgage scams (without going after any significant political-campaign contributors), it'll be a miracle if Lockhart survives this process with both of his testicles still intact. Give him 44 points for contributing to the bailout era in his own special way.

Fare beating
On the heels of what seemed like an a-hole outburst of extremely rare intensity — the arrest of Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, along with his cousin, for beating a Buffalo cab driver over 20 cents — we now have a strangely similar new case. Troubled Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib was picked up last month for simple battery and resisting arrest without violence after he allegedly attacked a St. Petersburg cabbie.

Talib has been a handful since he went pro. This past May, he swung a helmet during a brawl in practice, missed his target, and ended up hitting fellow corner Torrie Cox in the face. And at last year's NFL rookie symposium — a meeting the league holds with new players to teach them how to not behave like jackasses — Talib got into a fight with then-teammate Cory Boyd.

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