Nine suspended Florida Gators facing multiple third-degree felonies charges

By Adam Silverstein
September 25, 2017
Nine suspended Florida Gators facing multiple third-degree felonies charges
Football

Image Credit: ESPNI

Sworn affidavits were filed Monday against the Florida Gators presently suspended for the team for alleged fraud. Seven of the players, including junior stars wide receiver Antonio Callaway and running back Jordan Scarlett, are facing a pair of third-degree felony charges.

Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jordan Smith faces five third-degree felony charges, while freshman offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort faces roughly 30 third-degree felony charges.

Per the complaint filed against the players, investigators found that “students had added large amounts of funds electronically to their UF Bookstore debit accounts using one or several different credit cards that did not belong to them. Some of the students even saved the card for future charges. … The students then used the funds in their UF Bookstore debit accounts to purchase items from the UF Bookstore in person. … Most of the items purchased were electronics, including items such as laptops, iPads and Beats headphones.”

The two universal charges are for fraud (swindling property valued at under $20,000) and impersonation (using or possession of a person’s identification without consent). Junior defensive lineman Keivonnis Davis, who was expected to see time as a rotational player this season, along with redshirt sophomore DL Richerd Desir-Jones, redshirt freshman WR Rick Wells and freshman linebackers James Houston IV and Ventrell Miller also received both charges. Smith was hit with three additional impersonation charges. Telfort faces the fraud charge, 13 impersonation charges (for forging names on food deliveries), 12 illegal use of credit card charges and three charges of passing off a false instrument.

Callaway, Scarlett, Desir-Jones and Miller each transferred slightly under $2,000 to their respective University of Florida accounts. Smith added over $3,500. Telfort and Davis transferred about $1,500, while Wells and Houston added under $1,000. Smith and Telfort attempted multiple transactions, may of which failed, though a handful were successful. Smith is also accused of using cards to pay an outstanding UF Transportation and Parking balance of nearly $1,500 and $800 in rent. Telfort is also accused of “multiple credit cards to make multiple transactions, including sending money to his UF account, purchasing items and ordering food.”

Scarlett allegedly used a card on another student’s account (that of his girlfriend) in an attempt to hide the fraud and claimed that Smith added the funds to the account. He told her that the money added to her account was “from an agent in New York.” Wells told police that his girlfriend added the money to his account with her credit card, a statement she corroborated but one that contradicted the evidence.

Specific complaints also show that many of the players have already paid back the funds to settle their accounts.

Head coach Jim McElwain did not comment on the suspended players during his Monday press conference even as news broke about the charges while he was speaking. Athletic director Scott Stricklin released a statement hours later.

“We obviously took this matter very seriously as evidence[d] by Coach McElwain’s decision to suspend the players immediately and indefinitely from all team activities,” he said> “We have respected the appropriate process from the beginning and will continue to do so.”

Per UF policy, students are generally suspended from school while facing felony charges. That means student-athletes like football players would be ineligible to compete under such circumstances.

However, pretrial diversion will likely be available from the state for most of the players. A common PTD would work to ensure players without criminal records do not ultimately face these charges as they would be forced to return the stolen funds, perform community service and take part in programs that prevent future criminal acts. One could see players in PTD potentially having their suspensions lifted with punishment being time served if allowed to continue in school.

However, players with prior records or a significant number of charges may not be offered PTD by the state attorney, which would severely limit Florida’s ability to reinstate them this season … or possibly at all.

McElwain stated Monday during his press conference that the players were still enrolled in school at that time (as they had not yet been charged with felonies).

“Our team kind of had moved on and then we’ll deal with whatever it is when it comes up,” he said. “I think there’s one thing [the other players] have done a pretty good job of is dealing with some things.”

Below are the felony statutes with which the players are being charged:

Third-degree felony fraud: “Any person who engages in a scheme to defraud and obtains property thereby is guilty of organized fraud … if the amount of property obtained has an aggregate value of less than $20,000”

Third-degree felony fraud — impersonation: “Any person who willfully and without authorization fraudulently uses, or possesses with intent to fraudulently use, personal identification information concerning an individual without first obtaining that individual’s consent, commits the offense of fraudulent use of personal identification information, which is a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided”

30 Comments

  1. James Little says:

    That is the reason why the NCAA should give these young men a little compensation to take care of their own personal business. The NCAA is making millions off of these young man look at the picture in trade of $30,000 or $300,000 scholarship let’s be truthful

    • Steph says:

      Are you kidding, they get a FREE college education! They are criminals and should be treated as such! Go to jail, go directly to jail.

    • Fatback says:

      That is absurd. These kids are given an opportunity most can only dream of. They were not forced to play football on a free ride. They are not victims and they are entitled to no more than you or me. In fact the sense of entitlement that you are advocating is the very problem. If they are in fact found guilty every one of them should be given the boot immediately. Give their scholarships to kids that will appreciate it, that want to work and won’t embarrass the university.

    • N8ureBoy says:

      I really hope you’re joking. This is a moral failure by these young men. Fraud is fraud and theft is theft. A paycheck wouldn’t give them a better moral compass…ask Bernie Madoff.

    • Dave Pfaff says:

      How about we cut out the excuses. These guys knew what they were doing was wrong, downright illegal. There have to be consequences. Laptops and headphones don’t strike me as necessities.

  2. robert says:

    I remember when gator fans used to talk about Miami being a team of criminals
    my how the wheel turns.Are there any gators who aren’t the thugs now?

    • JBW says:

      yes. the remainder of the team you jerk. These players were taken off of the field in the beginning, not waiting until the situation became public with the charges. this is the difference in FSU and MIAMI of old. You now have a coach that will probably react the same way as the Gator Coach. These young men have been caught and now will pay the price. It was not covered up or ignored.

  3. Wendy Ritz says:

    Florida law makes some juvenile arrests accessible to the public. Colleges have to formally request copies of arrest records as part of the recruitment process.

  4. Jodi says:

    I suppose all of these thieves (“players”) would also kneel for the anthem–PATHETIC!!

  5. Mike says:

    @Jodi: Get your political bull-sh*t off of this site. This is for Gator fans, not brainwashed political mouthpieces.

  6. Scott Jones says:

    Excuse me to all concerned… Ad a 1977 Gator fan,in all sports, I do not care how good you catch,throw,throw,and or block… You break the law and then try to hide it, etc… You should ne gone period. I hope they never play for UF again. Do I like the Gatprs tp win,yes but not witj criminals. They get scholarships and keep you nose clean and they might get great pro contracts after 3-4 yrs. Let them , all 9 , leave UF. That’s my take on all this garbage…

  7. SW Fl Joe says:

    I wonder if the credit cards used belong to boosters or UAA staff?

  8. 1974Gator says:

    I hope this has scared these baby ducks straight. Probably not. It’s the Cam Newton “if I want it I take it attitude”. I wouldn’t be surprised if we never see them playing for Gators again. I’m not sure that they shouldn’t have been kicked out of school in early August to keep them away from the other players. When 10% of your roster is charged with 3rd degree felonies can we expect that there isn’t another shoe ready to drop? I also wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Auburn has Callaway’s and Scarlett’s cell numbers.

    • 1974Gator says:

      I do understand that they were not charged with felonies in August and that kicking them out of school would not have prudent for the university to do. Still, there should have been some way to separate these alleged offenders from the rest of the football team two months ago.

  9. Dashawn Ray says:

    Why are u judging all nine of the players. some of them was tricked into the scam. Some of the boys have never been into trouble an graduated with honors. Just because they made a mistake no they shouldn’t be kicked off team

    • N8ureBoy says:

      Graduating with honors proves that they’re well-educated criminals, so I’m not sure what that has to do with anything. “Mistakes” carry consequences, especially when those mistakes are felonies.

    • 1974Gator says:

      Even if 6 of them (Callaway, Smith and Telfort I don’t expect will get PTDs because of priors and/or the severity of the charges) get PTDs it would probably be best to let them do their court ordered penance and show up for the post season or Spring practice. Clean slate so to speak.

  10. HoneyBeez says:

    I noticed in the article that the words “allegedly stolen” were not used. I’m beginning to think these credit cards were given by sports agents, which was stated by one of the players. Who knows… either way, Calloway and Scarlett will let a measly couple thousand deter them from making millions in the future. It’s sad that these kids are lacking direction. They need to add more peer models to the staff in order to keep these kids out of trouble. They come from broken homes and apparently it’s still effecting their ability to make sound decisions.

    • The cards were stolen. The use is alleged. Sports agents are not stealing credit cards to give to players. Would just give them cash.

      • HoneyBeez says:

        Understood. I meant the credit card was used to deposit money into the student accounts, not necessarily that the cc was stolen. To me it seems like this could be a conspiracy that has been going on for awhile and it’s just being exposed. Of course when everything goes down, it’s labeled as stolen cards because the school doesn’t want to be liable for students receiving aid from agents. That’s really what I meant in my previous post, but of course, it’s just a theory…

        • The cops reported the names and info of the people who owned the cards. None of them are agents, they’re all innocent people across the country. And agents wouldn’t give the players stolen credit cards — or real ones — because there would be a paper trail.

  11. Billy says:

    Funny how some of you idiots crucify “all” of these kids for making “1” mistake. At the end of the day these are kids that we are talking about. If one of these young men were your son, nephew, or grandson, I’m sure you would not want people calling them ridiculous names and lobbying for them to get kicked out of school. Yes these boys made a bad mistake but they still have potential to be good kids moving forward. Earning a scholarship to UF is not easy athletically or academically, and they have shown that by getting accepted to UF! Callaway is another story because he’s been in trouble before. I do think the kids have paid the ultimate price by not being able to play any this season. After the return of all the stolen funds and completion of the PTD program, I think these boys should be reinstated.

  12. M Palmer says:

    I don’t want any of these nine representing my University. Tired of all the negative attention. These players have all the advantages of student athletes could want. And this is how they reacted. They have hurt our team & coaches by their selfish acts…..They are hopefully gone, so we need to move on. Our Team has some very talented young players that are now getting a chance to play & develop. Lets get behind this team & give them our support !!!! Go Gators !!!!!

  13. Michael L. Jones says:

    What is telling and kind of shoots the whole “needy kid” argument in the foot is that most of them have already made restitution.

    • senuod says:

      I wouldn’t think so. A lot of people would take advantage of any previously necessary assets to be liquidated to prevent jail time…None of us know how they made that restitution.

  14. Ron F says:

    The biggest remaining question is how did they get the credit card numbers. Noting the location of the victims (appear to be all over the country with no ties to Gainesville/UF) it does not appear they could have stolen the physical card. They also don’t seem to be smart enough to be hackers, anyone smart enough to hack for info would find a smarter way to use the card anonymously. Adam any intel or rumors on the how?

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