Chicago attorney who scammed NFL stars gets 18 months in prison

The NFL Logo is seen on the field before the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Mat Otero)

A Chicago attorney was sentenced to 18 months in prison Wednesday for selling bogus tax credits to about 20 current and former NFL stars as Ray Lewis, Terrell Owens, Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress.

Former NFL linebacker Adalius Thomas, who played for the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots, testified in a federal courtroom in Chicago Wednesday that the fraud scheme orchestrated by Gary J. Stern has trashed his credit.

Thomas said he can't lease a car and must pay for everything out of his pocket.

"I can't go and say, 'I'm a good person, can you please excuse this?'" Thomas said.

Stern created a bogus tax shelter that resulted in 34 people filing 55 different false income tax returns for the tax years 2006, 2007 and 2008, according to a court filing by the prosecution.

The scheme caused a tax loss to the United States of about $5 million. Prosecutors have noted that Stern was repeatedly warned by a junior colleague at his law firm that the scheme wouldn't pass IRS muster.

Stern's attorney, Jeffrey Steinback, noted in court papers that the criminal case has wrecked Stern's life, that he will never practice law again and is asking for the lowest possible sentence for his client under the law.

Before this crime, Stern, 58, had no criminal record, Steinback wrote.

In remarks to the judge, Stern apologized to his victims, including Thomas, who had left the courtroom by then.

"If he was here, I would convey to Mr. Thomas my personal apologies for the pain I have caused him and his family," Stern said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire - Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2017.)

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