RICHMOND, Va. -- A former NFL and University of Virginia football player was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years in prison for his role in a $10 million fraud scheme.
Merrill Robertson, Jr., of Chesterfield, played football at L.C. Bird High School, Fork Union Military Academy, and the University of Virginia. He then played briefly for the Philadelphia Eagles in the early 2000s.
In August, the 37-year-old was convicted by a federal jury of fifteen offenses, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of mail fraud and four counts of bank fraud.
Merrill Robertson Jr. and co-conspirator, Sherman Carl Vaughn, started Cavalier Union Investments, LLC, and Black Bull Wealth management, LLC, according to court records.
Prosecutors said from 2009 to 2016 the 36-year-old and the co-conspirator, identified as Sherman Carl Vaughn, solicited individuals to invest money in private investment funds that they managed, as well as investment opportunities that they proposed.
They said Robertson identified potential investors by using contacts that he had from the NFL, the University of Virginia and the Fork Union Military Academy.
Court records show that Robertson defrauded elderly individuals, former coaches, donors, alumni, and school employees.
Prosecutors said Robertson and Vaughn led clients to believe they were experienced investment advisors, and that they employed other experienced investment advisors to manage their investment funds.
Court documents reveal that Robertson held licenses to sell securities, but was not a registered broker.
“Behind every lie is a choice,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Mr. Robertson lied to his friends and mentors, and many times had the opportunity to come clean and tell the truth. Instead, he chose to continue his lies and fraud, which had devastating effects on his victims. I applaud the terrific efforts of the trial team and our law enforcement partners in investigating and prosecuting this important case.”
Court records show that Robertson and Vaughn fraudulently obtained more than $10 million from over 50 investors. Prosecutors say the men spent most of the money on mortgage and car payments, school tuitions, spa visits, luxury goods, and vacations.
Robertson faced a maximum penalty of 330 years in prison.