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HOUSTON -- Former NFL defensive lineman Sean Jones pleaded
not guilty Thursday to bank fraud charges alleging he and four
others ran a scheme to pocket portions of more than $42 million in
Jones, handcuffed and chained at the waist, didn't comment
during or after the arraignment aside from entering his plea. The
other men in the case also entered not guilty pleas, and bond was
set for $100,000 for all five.
Jones, now a 45-year-old sports agent living near Houston,
played with the Los Angeles Raiders, Houston Oilers and Green Bay
Packers from 1984-1996. According to a federal indictment unsealed
Thursday, the men face 12 counts of bank fraud, which carry a
penalty of up to 30 years in prison.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith set an Aug. 6 trial date.
Prosecutors contend the men defrauded three Houston banks by
acquiring mortgage loans far in excess of the properties' value and
then diverting the money for personal use.
Also charged were Jerome Karam, an attorney and real estate
developer; Tommy Jay Trammel and David Ranostaj, former loan
officers with Southwest Bank of Texas, Bank of Houston and Whitney
National Bank; and Jay Westrick, a real estate appraiser.
The indictment charges the men with colluding from 1999-2001 to
acquire more than $42 million in loans based on false appraisals by
Westrick and then divert the money to their personal accounts at
Jones, Karam, Trammel and Ranostaj set up shell corporations to
disguise their role in the enterprise, according to the indictment.
Federal officials say Trammel's and Ranostaj's role in the
scheme was unknown to their supervisors at the banks.
Each of the men faces a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in
federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
Jones played with the Raiders from 1984-1987, then joined the
Oilers, where he played until his only Pro Bowl season in 1993. He
went to Green Bay the following year and was on the Packers' Super
Bowl-winning team in 1996.
Jones has been plagued with legal and financial problems in
recent years. Arbitrator Roger Kaplan ruled in 2003 that Jones
violated NFL Players Association rules in a financial arrangement
he had with NFL player Ebenezer Ekuban, who later declared
bankruptcy. Kaplan suspended Jones for two years, blocking him from
representing NFL players until 2005.
Former Houston Oiler Cris Dishman also sued Jones and won
$396,000 from him after a failed financial investment.
In a June 14 Associated Press story about former NFL player Sean Jones that was run by ESPN.com, The Associated Press erroneously reported that Jones still owed money to a former Houston Oilers teammate resulting from a lawsuit over a failed business venture. Court documents show Jones paid the money and the lawsuit has been settled.