Former University of Virginia and NFL football player Merrill Robertson Jr., 37, of Chesterfield, was sentenced Wednesday for 15 offenses, including mail and wire fraud and money laundering.
Found guilty in August, he has been sentenced to 40 years in prison, stemming from a $10 million fraud scheme he helped run, which victimized more than 50 investors.
According to a Department of Justice news release in August at the time of his conviction, Robertson Jr. started Cavalier Union Investments LLC and Black Bull Wealth Management LLC with co-conspirator Sherman Carl Vaughn. Prosecutors say Robertson and Vaughn sold promissory notes which they said would pay an annual return of up to 20 percent, with Robertson targeting former coaches, donors, alumni and employees of schools he attended as customers.
From the DOJ:
From 2009-2016, Robertson and Vaughn solicited individuals to invest money in private investment funds that they managed, as well as distinct investment opportunities that they proposed. Robertson identified potential investors through various contacts; including contacts he developed playing football at Fork Union Military Academy, the University of Virginia, and in the National Football League, while Vaughn focused on developing investment opportunities.
Robertson and Vaughn led individuals to believe they were experienced investment advisors, and that they employed other experienced investment advisors to manage their investment funds. For example, Vaughn represented that he was a long-time investor and philanthropist with extensive experience in business and real estate. In fact, Vaughn filed for personal bankruptcy four times, including twice during the time he was soliciting investors for Cavalier.
Prosecutors say that instead of investing the money as promised, Robertson and Vaughn used the invested money for themselves. The DOJ reports:
As a result of this conspiracy, Robertson and Vaughn fraudulently obtained more than $10 million from over 50 investors, spending much of the money on their own personal living expenses, including mortgage and car payments, school tuitions, spa visits, restaurants, department stores, and vacations.
“Behind every lie is a choice,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Mr. Robertson lied to his friends and mentors, and many times had the opportunity to come clean and tell the truth. Instead, he chose to continue his lies and fraud, which had devastating effects on his victims. I applaud the terrific efforts of the trial team and our law enforcement partners in investigating and prosecuting this important case.”
Robertson played football at L.C. Bird High School, Fork Union Military Academy, and the University of Virginia. He also briefly played for the Philadelphia Eagles in the early 2000s.
The following news video describes the crimes committed by Robertson when he was charged in August 2016.