Ex-Packer charged in bank fraud

Jones played for Green Bay's Super Bowl XXXI championship team

The Associated Press reported today that former Green Bay Packers lineman Sean Jones pleaded not guilty Thursday to bank fraud charges alleging he and four others ran a scheme to pocket portions of more than $42 million in mortgage loans.

Jones played for the Packers from 1994-96. He was a key member of the team's Super Bowl XXXI championship team in 1996.

Here is the rest of the Associated Press report:

Jones, handcuffed and chained at the waist, didn't comment during or after the arraignment aside from entering his plea, according to the report. The other men in the case also entered not guilty pleas, and bond was set for $100,000 for all five.

Jones, now a 45-year-old sports agent living near Houston, played with the Los Angeles Raiders, Houston Oilers and the Packers before retiring. According to a federal indictment unsealed Thursday, the men face 12 counts of bank fraud, which carry a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith set an Aug. 6 trial date.

Prosecutors contend the men defrauded three Houston banks by acquiring mortgage loans far in excess of the properties' value and then diverting the money for personal use.

Also charged were Jerome Karam, an attorney and real estate developer; Tommy Jay Trammel and David Ranostaj, former loan officers with Southwest Bank of Texas, Bank of Houston and Whitney National Bank; and Jay Westrick, a real estate appraiser.

The indictment charges the men with colluding from 1999-2001 to acquire more than $42 million in loans based on false appraisals by Westrick and then divert the money to their personal accounts at closing.

Jones, Karam, Trammel and Ranostaj set up shell corporations to disguise their role in the enterprise, according to the indictment.

Federal officials say Trammel's and Ranostaj's role in the scheme was unknown to their supervisors at the banks.

Each of the men faces a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

Jones played with the Raiders from 1984-1987, then joined the Oilers, where he played until his only Pro Bowl season in 1993. He signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Packers in 1994.

Jones has been plagued with legal and financial problems in recent years. Arbitrator Roger Kaplan ruled in 2003 that Jones violated NFL Players Association rules in a financial arrangement he had with NFL player Ebenezer Ekuban, who later declared bankruptcy. Kaplan suspended Jones for two years, blocking him from representing NFL players until 2005.

Former Houston Oiler Cris Dishman also sued Jones and won $396,000 from him after a failed financial investment.

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