Less than a year after settling a $1 million fraud lawsuit filed by an ex-teammate, former Vikings tight end Stu Voigt was charged Wednesday with using a real estate scheme to swindle millions from investors by diverting funds into new accounts.
Voigt, 66, of Apple Valley, and Twin Cities real estate developer Jeff Gardner, 61, were both charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, bank fraud, false statement on a loan application and monetary transactions in criminally derived property. Documents filed between 2005 and 2007 accuse Voigt and Gardner of conspiring to defraud individuals and financial institutions by misrepresenting assets to victim investors. Voigt helped solicit and raise funds for Gardner’s business entity, Hennessey Financial LLC, according to the indictment. Investors were told their money would be used for financing commercial real estate projects and were promised annual returns of 10 to 20 percent.
But Gardner used Hennessey’s funds instead for repaying previous investors and debts incurred by himself and his companies, court records show.
According to the indictment and previous filings:
Gardner lied to investors about the financial state of the company, pledging positive returns even after the business was failing.
Voigt was the chairman of First Commercial Bank in Bloomington, a big commercial real estate lender, and secured loans for Gardner without revealing the company’s financial situation or his affiliation to Hennessey.
Voigt was banned from banking and paid a $15,000 fine to settle accusations of illegal activity while running the bank, which was shut down and sold in 2012.
Former Vikings teammate Ron Yary settled a lawsuit against Voigt last year in federal court, ending a dispute that began in 2011. The suit claimed Voigt conned Yary and three other Minnesotans out of $1 million after luring them into “risk-free” investments. The deal cost one elderly man his life savings.