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, will spend the next five years in prison after being convicted for his part in a scheme that involved taking out six home equity loans his mother’s home – at the same time.
In August, Fryar and his mother, Allene McGhee, were found guilty of conspiracy and theft of deception for a scheme that defrauded several financial institutions of $1.2 million.
According to court documents, five of the six loans taken out on McGhee’s home were taken out within a six-day period and four of the loans closed on a single day –Dec. 21, 2009.
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.
“The defense attorneys tried to convince the jury that their clients were tricked by a devious mortgage broker who drove the entire scheme,” Director Elie Honig of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice said when Fryar and McGhee were convicted.
“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,” Honig continued.
According to the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, Fryar conspired with his mother to obtain five home equity loans totaling more than $690,000 between Dec. 18 and Dec. 21, 2009 using a single property – McGhee’s Willingboro home – as collateral for all of the loans.
Fryar and McGhee then conspired to obtain a sixth home equity loan on the home for $150,000 on Jan. 14, 2010.
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.
In addition to the $840,000 in home equity loans, Fryar and McGhee conspired to submit false wage information on an application by which McGhee obtained a $414,000 conventional mortgage on Oct. 20, 2009 on the home where Fryar lives in Springfield, which also is owned in McGhee’s name.
Fryar himself benefited in excess of $200,000 as a result of the fraudulently obtained loans, the New Jersey Attorney General’s office said. The banks involved wrote off most of the loans as losses after Fryar and McGhee made only a few payments.
“It’s regrettable that this former NFL star and church leader is going to prison, but the reality is that he stole more than $1 million,” said New Jersey Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “The fact that Fryar had the means to succeed and do good things and instead chose this criminal path makes his actions all the more reprehensible.
Fryar, 52, was sentenced Friday to five years in state prison. McGhee, 74, was sentenced to three years of probation.
“This was not a situation where Fryar and his mother simply made a few misrepresentations on a mortgage application; they participated in an elaborate and devious scheme to defraud seven banks of more than $1 million,” Honig said Friday. “This was a major theft case, and it rightfully has landed Fryar in state prison.”
(Image above courtesy of NBC Philadelphia)