MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (AP) — Former NFL star Irving Fryar was found guilty of a role in a mortgage scam on Friday and faces up to 10 years in prison.
The 52-year-old former wide receiver, who made his name at the University of Nebraska and with several professional teams, applied for multiple mortgage loans in quick succession while using the same property as collateral, a jury found.
Fryar’s defense was that he was a victim of a ‘‘con artist’’ who told him to carry out the scheme.
That man, William Barksdale, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge last year and was the government’s key witness. He is serving a 20-month prison sentence.
Fryar’s mother, Allene McGhee, also was convicted. Neither Fryar nor his mother testified at the three-week trial.
They rejected plea deals that would have meant five years in prison for Fryar and three for McGhee. Their lawyers contended that they were victims of Barksdale, not criminals.
Instead, Fryar and his mother went to trial to face conspiracy and theft by deception charges and were found guilty on both counts. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 2.
Authorities said Fryar and McGhee provided false wage information on her loan applications and claimed she earned thousands of dollars a month as an event coordinator for Fryar’s church. Authorities said the pair made just a few payments on four of the loans and banks eventually wrote the loans off as losses.
Fryar was freed Friday on bail of $20,000, and his mother was released on her own recognizance.
Fryar starred for Rancocas Valley High School in Mount Holly before playing at the University of Nebraska and becoming the first overall pick in the 1984 NFL draft by the New England Patriots. He later played for the Miami Dolphins, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins.
He is now the pastor of a church he founded, and for a time he also worked as a high school football coach in Robbinsville.