A former football player and Merrill Lynch advisor has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for a $10 million fraud scheme, according to a report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The criminal behavior of Merrill Robertson Jr., 39, cost 63 investors — many who knew him personally — some $9 million.
A jury convicted Robertson in October for conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering, the news report said. The former linebacker — who played briefly for the Philadelphia Eagles and also for the University of Virginia — targeted family, friends, coaches, teammates, churchgoers and a Sunday school teacher.
The term of 40 years, given by U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr., was much longer than the 24-year maximum of federal sentencing guidelines.
The judge cited the egregiousness of the crimes and their lifelong impact on the victims, as well as Robertson‘s use of religion to fleece clients. “He prayed with people before he took their money,” said Gibney, as quoted in the news report. “That’s a way of getting somebody’s confidence … that goes beyond the pale.”
Robertson and Sherman Carl Vaughn, 48, managed their Ponzi scheme through Cavalier Union Investment and Black Bull Wealth Management from 2008 to 2016, the Richmond paper said, focusing on sales of private funds and other investments after Robertson had left Merrill Lynch.