Former Gators WR Reche Caldwell is really lucky that he’s a dumb criminal

By Adam Silverstein
May 13, 2016

Two years of jail time sounds awful for most people. For former Florida Gators wide receiver Reche Caldwell, it’s a God send.

Why? Less than a year ago, Caldwell arrested – separately – for bookmaking, running a gambling house and attempting to import an illegal drug, MDMA/Molly, from China.

The series of events that led to Caldwell getting involved and entrenched in both enterprises is recounted in a fantastic piece from ESPN, but here’s the passage that really rings home.

[Caldwell had an] epic crime spree that was eerily similar to his NFL career — short-lived, unfocused and full of colossal blunders. His 10-month rager included two SWAT raids, four arrests, a half-eaten hoagie (we’ll explain) and Maxwell House coffee tins stuffed with cash. He also faced a litany of charges for running a multimillion-dollar gambling house in West Tampa and then, after that operation got busted, attempting to import and distribute what he thought was more than 5½ pounds of pure Molly (MDMA).

Got that?

Here’s the good news: Caldwell is an awful criminal. So bad, in fact, that his ineptitude provided his attorney with a number of ways in which he could do some great “lawyering” to get his client a relatively light sentence.

» Caldwell did not understand discretion. He started a gambling house in what was previously a small car-detailing shop. It got too big and drew too much attention with cars driving by and people going in-and-out of the shop at strange hours. Police noticed. “Not the greatest location for that kind of thing,” Caldwell admitted to ESPN. “Too big, too fast. I laugh at my stuff, too. What else can you do? I have to laugh. I really thought I was some kind of a criminal? ‘”

» Caldwell forgot about tracking – both computer and GPS versions. Deciding to fill a need in his community by selling MDMA/Molly, which could have turned a quick and lucrative profit, Caldwell began researching how to purchase the drug. He used Google to search for ways to buy it – from China. Caldwell placed an order – one package was set to be delivered to his house – entered the tracking information in his phone and even signed for the package when it arrived in the hands of a law enforcement agent posing as a delivery man. “He had been caught red-handed,” his attorney told ESPN, “and by that I mean the drugs were literally found, by police, in the hands of my client, who was also tracking them on his phone.”

» But there’s good news. Caldwell’s attorney got the drugs delivered to his client’s residence tested, and it was determined that not only were they not pure MDMA/Molly, they contained low levels of the drug. As such, he helped Caldwell avoid 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for a much-lighter 27-month sentence. Caldwell is currently serving that sentence at the minimum-security waterfront FPC Montgomery prison, which is located inside Maxwell Air Force Base and adjacent to a golf course. He’s even going to get out early on a work release program.

So that’s the story. Reche Caldwell: very good college receiver, disappointing NFL receiver, awful criminal, soon-to-be free man.

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