A former NFL player and Merrill Lynch financial advisor has been sentenced to 40 years in prison, according to news reports.
In October, a jury convicted Merrill Robertson Jr., a former University of Virginia and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker who had trained to be a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch, of conspiracy, mail, wire and bank fraud and money laundering in a scheme targeting his family, teammates, coaches and churchgoers that cost 63 investors $9 million, the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge John Gibney Jr. doled out a sentence above the 20 to 24 years recommended under federal sentencing guidelines, according to the paper.
“He prayed with people before he took their money,” Gibney said, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “That’s a way of getting somebody’s confidence ... that goes beyond the pale.”
Robertson had been convicted of the same crimes in a prior trial, and Gibney sentenced him to 40 years at that time as well, but a federal appeals court overturned the conviction last year, saying Gibney had not sufficiently questioned the jurors, the paper writes.
Robertson began his career as a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. But he was only registered with the wirehouse from April 2008 to December 2009, according to his BrokerCheck profile.
Robertson and Sherman Vaughn Jr. launched Cavalier Union Investments and Black Bull Wealth Management, and from 2008 to 2016 solicited money from investors to purportedly invest in private funds and other instruments but instead deposited the money into business accounts, took commissions on top of that, and spent the money on vacations, mortgages, jewelry, school tuition and charitable donations, the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes.
Robertson also convinced some investors to take out loans that wiped out their retirement savings or left them with poor credit ratings, according to the paper.
Vaughn pleaded guilty earlier and testified against Robertson, receiving 12 years in prison, the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes.
The SEC charged Robertson, Vaughn and Cavalier Union Investments in 2016 with defrauding investors.