Nine suspended Florida players facing possible felony charges

49
4020

Nine suspended University of Florida football players are facing possible third-degree felony charges after sworn complaints were filed against them Monday by the University of Florida Police Department, stemming from its investigation into credit card fraud.

True freshman offensive tackle Kadeem Telfort is facing 30 possible felony charges, while defensive end Jordan Smith is facing five.

The seven other players — wide receiver Antonio Callaway, running back Jordan Scarlett, defensive end Keivonnis Davis, linebacker James Houston, wide receiver Rick Wells, linebacker Ventrell Miller and defensive tackle Richerd Desir-Jones — are all facing two possible third-degree felony charges.

The criminal complaints allege that all nine players committed fraud under $20,000 and used another person’s credit card without consent.

Smith and Telfort are accused of making fraudulent charges to multiple stolen credit card numbers.

Six of the seven other players — Callaway, Scarlett, Davis, Houston, Miller and Desir-Jones — all made a single charge to a stolen credit card number ranging from $500 to $2,000, the complaints allege. Wells attempted to use the card twice.

Suspended UF football players
Photo Gallery: UF players facing criminal complaints

All the players are accused of using a stolen credit card number to transfer funds to their UF Bookstore debit accounts, then using the funds to purchase various items, mostly electronics. Smith and Telfort made multiple transfers, while the other seven made a single transfer.

According to the sworn complaint against Smith, the redshirt freshman transferred $3,570 to his bookstore debit account with three different credit card numbers. He also is accused of using a stolen credit card number to pay off $1,450 in outstanding parking tickets with UF Parking and Transportation.

Callaway and Scarlett each allegedly purchased MacBook Pros and headphones at the bookstore. Callaway’s charge was for $1,970, Scarlett’s for $1,940.

Smith is also being investigated by the Gainesville Police Department for allegations he used a stolen credit card to pay rent. That is an ongoing investigation that does not involve any other UF players, GPD confirmed last week.

Telfort used multiple credit cards to transfer $1,450 to his bookstore debit account. He also used stolen credit cards multiple times to have food delivered, including 12 times by 352 Delivery. In all, Telfort used nine different credit card numbers. Peter Schoenthal, a Miami-based attorney, filed a written plea of not guilty on Telfort’s behalf.

The charges made by the other players range from $400 to less than $2,000.

According to the sworn complaints, the nine players used credit card numbers stolen from 15 different people in different parts of the country. Miller, Callaway, Scarlett, Desir-Jones, Houston and Smith have settled their accounts with the UF Bookstore, according to the complaints.

This season is in jeopardy for all nine players. UF policy bans students from participating in any school activities if they are facing felony charges.

The sworn complaints against the players have been forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office, which will investigate the charges and then determine whether formal charges are brought. The maximum possible sentence is five years in prison and a $5,000 fine per charge. In cases like this, it usually takes several weeks or longer for that process to run its course.

As first-time offenders, seven of the players — Callaway, Scarlett, Davis, Houston, Wells, Miller, Desir-Jones — could be eligible for a felony diversionary program that likely would result in probation.

UF coach Jim McElwain learned of the felony complaints against his players from members of the media during his weekly news gathering.

“Well, obviously, know this: I really care about those guys,” McElwain said. “We’re going to do right by them. This is the first I’ve heard about it. Obviously, we sit down as a staff, we sit down as an administration. Obviously, the university first and what that is. Yet, at the end of the day, I’ll do everything I can to help these guys.”

McElwain was asked if the felony charges change anything in terms of the players’ possible status.

“You’re darn right,” he said.

Callaway, a junior and UF’s leading receiver last season, also was cited for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana in May. He accepted a plea deal with the State Attorney’s Office in July.

McElwain was asked if the felony charges against Callaway could be considered a third strike that would end his UF career.

“You know, you’re asking me something I don’t even know anything about,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s fair. You asked me a question. I mean I’m not sure you’d be sitting here with a felony.”

The nine players have not participated in any team activities since they were suspended before the start of the season. Seven players were suspended indefinitely Aug. 13. Scarlett and Wells were suspended amid the investigation 17 days later.

Callaway and Scarlett were two of the Gators’ biggest playmakers on offense. The other seven players were backups.

McElwain said he does not anticipate the felony charges being a distraction for his team, which is 2-1 overall off to a 2-0 start in SEC play, and plays Vanderbilt at home Saturday.

“(The suspended players) haven’t been here (to be a distraction),” he said.

All nine players remain in school.

“Well, they’re going to school, which they’ve been doing a good job of using all the accommodations that they’re given,” McElwain said. “I’m not saying (the other players) don’t see them. They all live together. But that’s part of the lesson, too, and in some cases, our team kind of had moved on and then we’ll deal with whatever it is when it comes up. I think there’s one thing these guys have done a pretty good job of is dealing with some things.”

McElwain suspended all nine players before the start of the season when he was made aware of UPD’s investigation into possible credit card fraud.

“We obviously took this matter very seriously as evidenced by Coach McElwain’s decision to suspend the players immediately and indefinitely from all team activities,” UF Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said. “We have respected the appropriate process from the beginning and will continue to do so.”

49 COMMENTS

    • It looks like the phrase “university-issued funds” has disappeared from this article. Can someone please explain why it was there in the first place?

      Were these actual stolen credit cards (i.e. VISA or Mastercard Cards) or did the students use their ID as a “credit card” and report it as stolen afterward? I’m very confused be the inconsistent reporting on this in the media. What ACTUALLY happened here?

      If they stole someone’s credit card number and bought a bunch of stuff, then that is certainly a serious crime. But I thought I heard that student ID’s were involved somehow, but that doesn’t appear anywhere now, and the explanation that are there seem a bit unclear.

  1. If players had a spending stipend this type of crap would not be as common. A id from a street wise background has different priorities than those who have. the universities make tonns of money off these kids.
    They did make poor choices.

    • No, and not just no, Hell No!
      1. Players DO have a stipend.
      2. Bad behavior cannot be explained away by being broke. I, and everyone else reading this, were broke as $hit in college.
      3. When you make an excuse for bad behavior, you encourage it.
      4. Universities make tons of money on ALL of the students, not just athletes.

  2. Gary, those with first offenses will likely go to second chance community colleges and show up at smaller schools and play in the future. But I think Callaway and Smith’s football playing days are over, and possibly Scarlett as well. One just shakes one’s head. How hard is it to just do the right thing when someone is paying for your college education and allowing you to possibly work to build for an NFL career where you can possibly earn millions of dollars. Perplexing to me. But you can’t teach, in many cases, good character to bad character people. Wish Callaway and others good luck playing the lottery as a way to make millions. But, likely, crime will be their path to try to make easy money. But hoping all of them will seek out help and lead positive and constructive lives from this point on, be it involving football or not.

  3. Come on guys. Who can’t have a bit of sympathy for the first offenders. If they have no history of criminal behavior and this is their first brush with the law, they deserve a second chance. Everyone does. Hell, I have had second and third chances and finally made the most of them. Just ’cause your ID sez’ you are an adult doesn’t mean your head is there yet.

    I will say that I think Callaway has meet his allotment of second chances…

  4. The head shaker of them all is Kadeem Telfort who obviously never thought he would get caught. Apparently Telfort used multiple credit cards to make multiple transactions, including sending money to his UF account, purchasing items and ordering food using stolen cards. As a result, he faces roughly 30 third-degree felony charges. Hard to imagine any type of pretrial diversion for Telfort. His intent was reckless to say the least.

  5. I think these are young men who made very poor choices and from being around people that were bad influences on them. Very unfortunate. I hope others on the team, at the school and around the country will learn from this do not repeat this on their own.

  6. On the bright side…McElwain’s new BBQ sauce is going to need some more exposure in Hogtown. Som nifty caps and caters with the sauce logo, and Mac might have 9 new applicants to peddle this stuff door-to-door, Coach-autographed bottles $1 extra. Let’s make lemonade, people!

  7. These suspended players (and some soon to be dismissed players) just opened some roster spots for McElwain to recruit and sign more 2018 recruits that might be better than them, and hopefully be a lot smarter and with higher character. Go Gators.

  8. Well now we know. After watching the last 2 weeks, I’ve come to believe our future is very bright. The freshmen and walk on’s have done very good job so far. They are getting valuable playing time that’s going to pay off in the future. If I was a recruit and was looking for a chance to play early, I would be looking at the gators as a possible place to go. Good luck and good bye to the 9 players.

  9. Best of luck for the future of these guys. Glad they are out of the lockeroom away from our players. This confirms UF’s commitment as an institution of high integrity that deals with situations just and fairly.

  10. If this report is correct the two should be expelled from school as soon as it is confirmed, the rest probably should go as well. This is much more serious than the previously thought I bought stuff with my stipend and turned it into cash. I wonder who started it, and how they actually got these credit card numbers. Criminals have no place as Gators.

  11. Whatever happened to “Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law?” I thought that was America. Land of the free, home of the brave. Maybe it just means only the media and idiot fans can convict someone out of court. Let it play out thru the justice system. My god! Do none of you understand how the media works to generate and re-cycle a story, create yellow headlines that scream “Gator Convicts.” I didn’t see ONE commentator here say they “allegedly” participated in credit card fraud. I think Mac and the University administration did the right thing. Suspended until found innocent, guilty or charges dropped.
    Come on America. Wake up. This is not a banana republic. This supposed to be “Liberty and justice FOR ALL!” Stop convicting these guys when you have no shred of evidence, just hearsay from a supposedly to administration official. Glad none of you red, white and blue haters aren’t on my defense council team.

  12. probably smith, telfort, callaway have used up their chances at UF. everybody else, hmmm. think it should be on a case by case basis, with close attention paid to detail. Some comments have raised the question of who started it, how did they get the stolen card numbers, etc. These are all valid considerations for what to do moving forward. If the prosecution is willing to defer, and the administration considers them for a second chance, i do think that a second chance isn’t the worst thing in the world. it’s a chance for them to do the right thing and learn from the experience. it’s sad that they had to make this mistake to learn from it, but name-calling and finger-pointing don’t really deal with the problem at all. i’ve got to say i am just as disappointed with the parents of these young men as i am with the men themselves.

  13. It is one thing to break team rules but when you elevate your behavior to felony crimes, that should result in the end of your playing time. I didn’t have much money when I was a student and neither did anyone else. We went to the Reitz Union and shot pool or bowled. That is of course when we were not studying or doing our laundry. Stealing money through credit card fraud is a big deal and none of us would put up with it if we were victimized. The players need to go. UF is too good of a university to allow these players to stay around, especially when they are not interested in a quality education or in growing to become outstanding citizens.

  14. As a third-generation Gator putting the fourth-gen through right now, I don’t ever want to see any of these nine knuckleheads standing on the grass at the Swamp unless it’s to offer an apology to the students and alumni.

    After that, unless acquitted or charges are dropped, I don’t want to see them wearing the uniform.

    Let schools with no class take them. (NB: 7 of the 9 were suspended BEFORE UF Police contacted the bookstore on 15Aug. None of this “well . . . we want to give them every benefit of the doubt . . . especially if it affects our chances on the field” BS. I won’t cheer for or financially support a band of criminals.)

  15. First of all, due process and “allegedly” absolutely apply, but I think that comments are mostly understood to mean “if they are guilty”. Secondly, the astonishingly brazen (or incredibly stupid) modus operandi of transferring stolen funds to ONE’S OWN DEBIT ACCOUNT, or ordering and having food delivered to ONE’S OWN ADDRESS, or paying ONE’S OWN RENT, is just amazing. It will be interesting to learn how the defense intends to support any assertion of “not guilty”. Excuses for youth, associates, or socio-economics simply don’t wash. Were that the case, these guys ALL got at least a second chance when they signed with the Gators, and in most cases probably at least a third. Rather, I think this pertains to the sense of entitlement and perpetual pampering and excuses that star athletes are accorded these days. With recruiters looking at them as early as middle school, if not sooner, and years of being treated as young gods, many of these guys (by no means all, or even the majority) believe they are above the law and that the rules don’t apply to them. So many of their transgressions are overlooked or downplayed (Callaway) that they just keep spiraling downward. All the “chances” do most of them no favors. They learn they can get away with much, and soon come to believe they can get away with it all. The NFL is packed with their role models who got away with most everything in college, and are now multi-millionaires. This only changes if we, as a society recognize and reward the real heroes – teachers, first-responders, soldiers, social workers… So, the prospects for change are not encouraging. Regardless, absolve the innocent, prove the guilty, and don’t let these guys steal the spotlight from the good guys and gals that represent Gator Nation.

  16. As a third-generation Gator sending a fourth-generation through the school, I don’t want to ever see these nine at the Swamp again unless apologizing to the students and alumni.

    After that, unless acquitted or charges are dropped, I don’t want to see them wearing the uniform.

    Let schools with no class take them. (NB: 7 of the 9 were suspended BEFORE UF Police contacted the bookstore on 15Aug. None of this “well .. . we want to give them every benefit of the doubt . . . especially if it affects our chances on the field” BS. I have no interest in cheering for or financially supporting a band of criminals.)