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.
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.”