Bryan Berard, left, poses with two very attractive people.
It's not uncommon to hear stories of retirees bilked out of their savings by greedy and duplicitous con men. These days, that seems like an everyday occurrence.
But here's a tip for aspiring con men: if you're going to go after retirees, do not target former first overall draft pick Bryan Berard.
Yes, he is technically a retiree, having ended his NHL career after the 2007-08 season with the New York Islanders, but he's only 36 years old, so he's still pretty sharp.
Furthermore, this is a guy that battled his way back from a gruesome eye injury -- a slashed sclera, a retinal tear, and a detached retina among the issues he had to overcome. It took seven operations, but rather than calling it a career, he returned to the ice.
He is, in a word, persistent. Do not mess with Bryan Berard. Do not take what is his. He will come after you. And he will not stop. He's hockey version of The Mummy.
On Wednesday, two con men learned that lesson the hard way.
Authorities arrested Phil Kenner and Tommy Constantine (the latter of whom once served as financial advisor to the likes of Mark Messier and N*Sync), just outside of Phoenix for a massive fraud scheme that bilked as many as 25 hockey players out of at least $15 million. One of those hockey players was Berard, and he was orchestral in seeing that the two men were put in cuffs.
According to the New York Daily News, the long and difficult investigation "relied largely on the determination and persistence" of Berard, which seems about in keeping with the guy that played 619 NHL games in the NHL.
Berard, who was picked first overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators, has devoted much of his recent life to pouring through bank records and documents and sifting through emails as he cooperated with the FBI in exposing one of the most extensive con jobs in sports history.
“I feel like I can finally close a chapter in my life. It’s been a tough four years finding out a friend/business manager had stolen from me after I retired from the NHL,” said Berard, who estimates he lost at least $3 million and maybe as much as $6 million in forged lines of credits, worthless real estate deals and bad investments in a tech startup, a video game company and a shoulder pad company. “I never made any money from any of it. Now, I can now move on to my next career knowing he will be held responsible for what he’s done."
Like Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac, this guy.
Why you would mess with Berard -- especially after seeing what he looks like -- is beyond me. He looks like a man that will hunt you down.
Other former NHLers believed to have been bilked by the scam, which was ongoing as recently as two weeks ago, include Michael Peca, Mattias Norstrom, Jere Lehtinen, Glen Murray, Jason Woolley, and Jozef Stumpel, some of whom also participated in the investigation.
The alleged crimes left some players broke and facing home foreclosures.
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