What is it with ex-athletes and mortgage fraud?

The collapse of the real estate market has brought to light a lot of nefarious activity that might have gone unchecked had home prices continued to rise.

And for whatever reason, more than a few retired professional athletes are getting caught up in it. Take a look:
  • Earlier this month, former Phoenix Sun Grant Gondrezick pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud charges related to transactions involving 24 homes in the suburbs of Houston. He faces up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and more than $1 million in restitution. Gondrezick's NBA career was cut short by drug problems.

  • Former Houston Rocket Dirk Minniefield was also charged in the case as a participating real estate agent, but he pleaded not guilty. Drug problems also hampered his NBA career.
  • Current Chicago Bulls point guard Lindsey Hunter was a partner in a company that was investigated by the FBI for mortgage fraud. He has not been charged with any crime, and his lawyers have maintained that he was a silent partner and was unaware of wrongdoing and terminated his involvement when he became aware of untrue representations.
  • Former Denver Broncos and New York Giants wide receiver Arthur Marshall was indicted on 22 counts of mortgage fraud and money laundering earlier this summer.
There are more cases like these, but they also reflect an interesting and rarely address problem: Many professional athletes find themselves in dire financial straits shortly after retiring. Sports Illustrated has reported that eight out of 10 NFL players are bankrupt or broke within two years of leaving the league -- that report recently inspired an epic rant from get out of debt guru Dave Ramsey.

When you combine poverty with a lack of non-athletic job skills, you have a recipe that will lead to criminal behavior in a certain segment of the population.
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