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FraudEx (1 Viewer)

Raider Nation

Devil's Advocate
Former Eagles wide receiver Freddie Mitchell faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to his role in a tax-fraud scheme.Mitchell pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to file a false claim. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.Mitchell and two others filed false tax returns on behalf of another athlete, identified only with the initials “A.G.” The plan was devised to receive a larger refund from the IRS and was done without the other athlete’s knowledge. Mitchell’s role was to recruit athletes and the two others filed the returns while also charging for their services as tax preparers.The Orlando Sentinel reports that Mitchell told the judge in the case that “he knew fraud was being committed and yet he did not stop the illegal activities or report it to law enforcement” as part of his guilty plea.
The Internal Revenue Service claims that Mitchell approached another professional athlete, known only as “A.G.” in court records, and advised that one of his co-defendants, Jamie Russ-Walls, had managed to wrangle a tax refund for him of $1 million. Mitchell told A.G. that Russ-Walls could do the same for him and A.G. allegedly paid a “down payment” of $100,000 for the preparation of tax returns (note to normal taxpayers: $100,000? A little steep for a down payment on a form 1040 unless it’s actually written in gold).At some point, A.G. must have become a little worried because he did not go through with filing the return. Mitchell, however, together with Russ-Walls and her husband, Richard Walls, did file a tax return for A.G. without his permission. The return resulted in a refund worth nearly $2 million. The refund was to be deposited into back accounts for the threesome, with Mitchell pocketing $280,000 for his trouble.Eventually, the accountant for A.G. grew suspicious and contacted the feds. An investigation followed, resulting in a grand jury indictment in April 2011.Russ-Walls and Walls have already pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. Russ-Walls received probation but no jail time; Walls was sentenced to just over three years in federal prison. Mitchell is clearly hoping to avoid jail time for his role in the fraud although he faces up to 10 years in prison.The feds allege that the plan was to recruit more than one professional athlete (you can read the indictment here) though the indictment does not indicate that Mitchell and his co-defendants actually pursued any other parties.As to the mysterious A.G.? Nobody is talking. The Eagles didn’t have anyone on their rosters for the years 2001 through 2004 with those initials. Curiously, the Kansas City Chiefs roster in 2005 did: Anthony Gonzalez, better known in the NFL as Tony Gonzalez. Though both Mitchell and Gonzalez went to college in California at about the same time, there doesn’t appear to be any other obvious connection. And Gonzalez was in Atlanta when Mitchell was in Florida. Interesting enough.Out of curiosity, I ran down a few other A.G.s in the NFL without much luck: Andrew Gackhar (LB for the San Diego Chargers), Adam Gettis (G for the Washington Redskins), A.J. Green (WR for the Cincinnati Bengals), Alex Green (RB for the Green Bay Packers) and Anthony Gaitor (DB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) weren’t yet pro in 2009. Antonio Garay (DE for the San Diego Chargers) and Antonio Gates (TE for the San Diego Chargers) don’t appear to have an obvious connection with Mitchell and the only link to Andrew Gardner (OT for the Houston Texans), who started his professional career in 2009 with the Miami Dolphins, is Florida.We’ll probably never know who A.G. is – and really, it doesn’t matter. He clearly came to his senses at some point and walked away from a scheme that caught up to Mitchell. But we can all take something from this story. The decisions that you can make in a split second – whether at 4th and 26 or sitting across the table from one of those “sounds too good to be true” tax professionals – have the potential change your life forever. Choose wisely.

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