Hedge Fund Fraudster To Football Stars Convicted

May 22 2008 | 2:00am ET

A jury has sacked hedge fund fraudster Kirk Wright, and it could be a long time before he gets back on the field.

Wright, best known for defrauding several National Football League players who invested in his International Management Associates, was convicted of mail fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. At his sentencing on Aug. 26, Wright faces up to 710 years in prison, a $16 million fine and untold millions in restitution.

It took the jury two days to return the verdict, after prosecutors painted a picture of a schemer so debased he defrauded his own mother.

“It was a scam from the beginning,” Jennifer Taylor, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, said during closing arguments. “It was a scam to the end.”

According to prosecutors, Marietta, Ga.-based IMA collected more than $155 million. Wright returned $70 million to clients as part of a Ponzi scheme, lost the $31 million he did invest, and used millions more to enrich himself. Much of the money remains missing. Prosecutors said he kept up the scam by sending phony brokerage reports to his clients, but the scheme began to unravel when former football star Steve Atwater and several other NFL players sought to redeem their investments.

Wright’s checks to the players bounced, and he fled in late 2005. He was arrested in Miami Beach, Fla., last May.

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