Former Minnesota Vikings star running back Michael Bennett faces charges in federal court in Miami alleging that he claimed to be a multimillionaire and committed identity theft in order to falsely obtain a $200,000 loan.
Bennett, 33, was nabbed in a federal sting operation that also snagged two fellow ex-NFL players and four others in a separate scheme to swipe identities and file false tax returns for refunds. He was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.
Bennett, a first-round draft choice out of Wisconsin in 2001 who played five seasons for the Vikings, is suspected of wire fraud. His best of five seasons with the Vikings was 2002, when he rushed for 1,296 yards. He went on to play for Kansas City, Tampa Bay, San Diego and Oakland.
According to the complaint against the former Viking:
Bennett sought a $200,000 loan on April 18 from an FBI-operated financial services store using a bank statement falsely indicating that he had $9 million in collateral for the loan.
He showed an undercover agent at the store a financial statement in his name with a balance of about $9 million. Bennett signed an agreement and returned Monday to pick up $150,000 of the loan in a cashier's check from the store. When the FBI determined that the statement had been altered, Bennett was arrested immediately and admitted to altering the document.
The other former NFL players implicated are former defensive linemen William Joseph, 32, a first-round draft choice by the New York Giants in 2003, and Louis Gachelin, 31, who broke into the NFL with the New England Patriots in 2004.
Gachelin is charged with identity theft, while Joseph is charged with fraud and theft of government property. They are both natives of south Florida. Bennett is from Wisconsin.
Bennett and Joseph were teammates with the Raiders in 2010, the last year that both men played.
The U.S. attorney's office in Miami alleged that each defendant was involved in dozens of fraudulently obtained tax refund checks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482