Irving Fryar, who spent 16 years in the National Football League, starring for the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles during his career, was convicted last week of mortgage fraud along with this 74-year-old mother.
According to various reports (including NJ.com), Fryar and his mother, Allene McGhee, were found guilty of conspiracy and theft of deception for their parts in a scheme that involved six home equity loans taken out on McGhee’s home.
According to a release from the state of New Jersey, five of the six loans taken out on McGhee’s home were taken out within a six-day period.
Four of the loans closed on the same day, Dec. 21, 2009.
The scheme defrauded several financial institutions of $1.2 million.
According to a release from the state of New Jersey, Fryar and McGhee deceived the six banks by applying for and closing on the loans within a short period and purposefully failing to disclose the existence of any prior loans, so each bank funded its loan in the belief that it held the first lien on the property and the loan would be secured by adequate equity.
Fryar, who made the Pro Bowl five times during his 16-year career, claimed during the trial that he and his mother were the victims of a con artist who took advantage of them.
Here is Fryar, in his own words, from a post-conviction interview with NBC10 in Philadelphia:
“I got duped,” Fryar said.
During his interview with NBC10, Fryar insisted he never saw the $1.2 million the government says he and his mother duped from multiple banks. Fryar claims William Barksdale, a former fraternity brother and the government's key witness, conned him and his mother and then pocketed all the money.
“My mother thought she was applying for a loan to buy a house,” Fryar told NBC10. “So he took her to multiple banks to have her apply for a loan. Mr. Barksdale told my mother, ‘You got a loan, you got a mortgage for the house, it’s at Beneficial, pay this mortgage at Beneficial.’”
Fryar said that his mother paid the mortgage to Beneficial for more than two years.
“Come to find out when all this went down was that the mortgage that was on the house was at Cornerstone,” Fryar said. “Cornerstone foreclosed on my mother’s house. My mother lost her house and she was paying the mortgage on one of his other houses.”
But the jury did not believe Fryar’s claims.
“The defense attorneys tried to convince the jury that their clients were tricked by a devious mortgage broker who drove the entire scheme,” said Director Elie Honig of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice. “I’m pleased that the jurors recognized the absurdity of the notion that Fryar and McGhee could believe that it was legal to take out six loans at one time on a single home and not tell the lenders.”
According to the NJ.com report, Fryar and McGee were also found guilty of falsifying wage and employment information on several loan applications, which stated McGhee earned a large salary as an employee for the New Jerusalem House of God, a church that Fryar founded.
The six banks that provided McGhee with home equity loans in December 2009 and January 2010 are Susquehanna Bank, The Bank, Cornerstone Bank, Sun Bank, Beneficial Bank and Roma Bank. Lincoln Mortgage Company provided the $414,000 conventional mortgage loan on the home where Fryar lives.
“This verdict ensures that Mr. Fryar and his mother will face substantial prison time,” said New Jersey Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “Fryar had an illustrious career in professional football and became the pastor of a church, but those things don’t mitigate the fact that he and his mother engaged in an elaborate criminal scheme to defraud seven banks of more than 1 million dollars.”
Fryar and McGhee’s convictions on second-degree charges carry a possible sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
Fryar and McGhee are scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 2.