January 03, 2011
UFC fighter Chael Sonnen is currently serving the last few months of a steroid suspension in California. He's expected to return to active fighting sometime in the spring or is he?
According to the Lake Oswego Review, his battle versus the federal government has ended with a guilty plea to money laundering:
A licensed Realtor from West Linn, Sonnen admitted before a judge Monday that he conducted a financial transaction designed to hide or disguise the ownership and control of proceeds of mortgage fraud, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.
Update: According to the Oregonian, as part of his guilty plea, Sonnen agreed to give up his realtor's license and pay a $10,000 fine. The government is recommending two years probation.
Update II - Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer reports (Audio - 1:40 mark) that Sonnen is turning state's evidence. He's also scheduled to fight Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 128 in New Jersey on March 19.
The IRS issued a public statement:
"West Linn residents, and other residents throughout the Portland-Vancouver area, can rest assured knowing that federal law enforcement agencies take mortgage fraud very seriously because it played a major role in almost crippling this nation’s banking system just a few years ago," said Marcus Williams, a special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigations for the Pacific Northwest.
Money laundering carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Sonnen's sentencing is scheduled for March 28.
Update III - Here is the full release from the U.S. Attorney's Office on Oregon. Sonnen's conspired with a mortgage broker to falsify repair work.
Sonnen, a licensed realtor in the State of Oregon, admitted that a financial transaction he conducted was designed to conceal or disguise the ownership and control of the proceeds of wire fraud. The scheme involved Joel Rosabal and Chadwick Amsden, employees of Crown Point Enterprises, dba Lighthouse Financial Group (Lighthouse), a mortgage brokerage service based principally in Vancouver, Washington, with operations in Oregon and elsewhere. Rosabal and Amsden submitted a materially false loan application on the buyer’s behalf to Decision One Mortgage, a subprime lending institution that is now defunct, for the purchase of residential property located at 11249 SE Rolling Hills Lane, Portland, Oregon. Sonnen acted as the realtor for the transaction. Sonnen submitted a false letter and Sales Agreement Addendum instructing the title company to pay loan proceeds to a plumbing company for repairs to the home. In fact, Sonnen knew and had negotiated with Rosabal that no repairs would be performed on the home and the funds designated to the plumbing company would instead be paid to the buyer as a cash incentive to purchase the home. This agreement was not disclosed to Decision One Mortgage. Once the loan was funded, the title company paid over $69,000 to the plumbing company and the plumbing company, in turn and at Sonnen’s direction, paid $65,000 to the buyer of the home.
Sonnen referenced a battle vs. the federal government during a recent interview with HDNet's Mike Straka (0:43 mark), but made no mention of this specific case.
Newspaper report tip via MMAScraps
U.S. Attorney's release via Bloody Elbow
Posted Jun 28 2012
Posted Jun 26 2012
Posted Jun 25 2012