tbo: Tampa Bay Online.
Monday, Dec 11, 2017
  • Home
  • Sunshine State Report
  • The latest on college sports in Florida

Nine Gators, including Antonio Callaway and Jordan Scarlett, face felony fraud accusations

Nine Florida Gators face at least 62 potential felony charges on accusations of credit card fraud. 

Star receiver Antonio Callaway, starting running back Jordan Scarlett are the two biggest names facing potential felonies. The other seven: receiver Rick Wells, defensive lineman Jordan Smith, linebacker Ventrell Miller, linebacker James Houston, defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones, defensive lineman Keivonnis Davis and offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort. 

(READ THE SWORN COMPLAINTS)

The State Attorney's Office will decide whether to file formal charges.

The players are accused of using credit cards they did not own to add to their bookstore debit accounts. They then used the extra money to buy electronics, which some players sold. Telfort faces 30 potential charges, and Smith faces 18. The others face two apiece. 

Smith, for example, used credit cards to add $3,570 to his account and then made three bookstore purchases for $3,272.79, according to the sworn complaints. He also paid his $1,450 outstanding balance to UF's transportation and parking.
Smith will also face a separate complaint from the Gainesville Police Department, which will allege that he used a stolen credit card to pay for rent at The Woodlands Apartment complex, according to the complaint.

Two other notable parts of the complaints: When the bookstore first found out about the discrepancies, it contacted the athletic department and the compliance office first. 

Also, money was deposited into the account of Scarlett's girlfriend, Sarita Francis. When Francis asked where the money came from, Scarlett told her "an agent in New York," according to the complaint. That would be a violation of NCAA rules. However, the money actually came from credit cards of people in Carlsbad, Calif. 

Coach Jim McElwain said he did not know about the update until he was informed of them during Monday's normal weekly news conference. He said felony charges would clearly affect the suspended players' status on the team.

"You're darn right," McElwain said. 

This is the latest update in a weeks-long saga that clouded the entire program.

UF suspended seven players - including Callaway - on Aug. 13 as rumors swirled about misusing university-related financial cards. The Gators initially said they were suspended for the opener against Michigan, but they still haven't rejoined the team.

Four days later, the Gainesville Police Department received a complaint against one of the other suspended players, Smith, and began investigating. The department has not shared details of that ongoing case, but multiple news outlets have reported that it involves an allegation of credit card fraud.

On Aug. 30, the scandal grew even more when two more players - Scarlett and Wells - were suspended. That grew the list to nine players involved in the allegations, including the team's leading rusher (Scarlett) and leading receiver (Callaway).

UFPD said then that the investigation was "fairly recent," which explains why a previous public-records request from the Tampa Bay Times came up empty.

At least three of the nine suspended players have had other off-the-field problems, too. Both Scarlett and Callaway have been cited on complaints of marijuana possession. Callaway was investigated (and ultimately cleared) over a sexual assault accusation from an incident that occurred in 2015; he admitted to being high on marijuana at the time of the encounter. Wells initially faced two felonies for shooting a BB gun into a residential building in 2016; the charges were dropped to a misdemeanor and dismissed after he entered a pre-trial diversion program.

The Gainesville law firm Johnson & Osteryoung is representing Callaway and Scarlett. 

Here's a statement from the State Attorney's Office: 

On September 22nd, 2017 our office received sworn complaints regarding a University of Florida Police Department investigation. As with all sworn complaints the case will be reviewed by our office, which includes interviewing witnesses, law enforcement and review of all evidence.

Thsi breaking news story will be updated as more information becomes available. 

Weather Center

10Weather WTSP

Comments