AUSTIN, Texas -- Federal authorities indicted former New Orleans Saints kicker Russell Erxleben for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme that netted more than $2 million.
"An eight–count federal grand jury indictment, returned on Tuesday and unsealed today, charges the Dripping Springs, Texas resident with five counts of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, and two counts of money laundering," said a statement from the United States Attorney’s Office
Western District of Texas.
According to the indictment, from 2005 until October 2009, Erxleben, 56, ran the Ponzi
scheme, defrauding investors under fraudulent pretenses.
Erxleben, according to the indictment, used several companies to convince people to invest in fraudulent business ventures, "namely, in post-WWI German government gold bearer bonds and in a work of art purportedly by Paul Gauguin, a famous late 19th-early 20th century artist."
Instead, he took the money for himself and his family and to pay dividends to earlier investors, according to the indictment, and "Erxleben also failed to disclose to investors his 1999 federal felony criminal convictions for securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, as well as the fact that he owed approximately $28 million in restitution stemming from those convictions."
If convicted, Erxleben faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each of the wire fraud and securities fraud counts, and up to 10 years in federal prison per money laundering count. Erxleben is in federal custody, awaiting a detention hearing.
In 1979, the Saints drafted Erxleben in the first round of the NFL draft, hoping to use the kicker as the team's punter and place kicker. He was released by the Saints in 1983.