Former U.Va. football player found guilty of investment scam

A former member of the Virginia Cavaliers football team is going to prison for fraud.

Merrill Robertson Jr., 39, of Chesterfield, Virginia, was convicted by a federal jury late Monday of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.

Robertson played at Fork Union Military Academy, Virginia and the Philadelphia Eagles. Exploiting contacts from his football days, Robertson and co-conspirator Sherman Carl Vaughn used two companies — Cavalier Union Investments and Black Bull Wealth Management — to scam $10 million from more than 60 investors, including former coaches, from 2008 to 2016, authorities said.

Most of the money was spent on cars, houses, clothes, spa visits, restaurants and vacations, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. About $4 million was used to repay earlier investors.

Claiming to be experienced investment advisers, Robertson and Vaughn promised people 20% returns on the investment funds they managed. In 2015, they began offering people help to fraudulently obtain loans in exchange for a cut of the money.

Robertson first was convicted in the fraud scheme in 2017, but was granted a retrial because of issues with the first judge. Vaughn pleaded guilty in September 2016, and was sentenced to 12 years in prison in February 2018.

When he’s sentenced in January, Robertson faces up to 330 years in prison — although sentences for federal crimes typically are less than the maximum penalties.

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