It seemed Irving Fryar had a pretty solid life. The first wide receiver ever taken No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft, Fryar retired in 2000 (he played with the Eagles from 1996-1998). After a brief stint at Action News, Fryar founded the New Jerusalem House of God in South Jersey. He was head football coach at Robbinsville High School in Mercer County. He even showed up at Eagles practices and get hugs from Jeffrey Lurie!
Then, last year the feds accused Fryar and his mother of mortgage fraud. Tuesday, the pair were arraigned, charged with conspiring to defraud five banks. The state says Fryar and his mother took out $690,000 in equity loans from five banks over a six day period — without telling each bank of the other loans. According to prosecutors, Fryar received $200,000.
Lawyers for Fryar and his mother, 72-year-old Allene McGhee, say otherwise. They point the finger at William Barksdale, who recently pled guilty to a charge of wire fraud connected to a scheme where he says he assisted families applying for millions in fraudulent loans.
The Inquirer reports:
When Barksdale pleaded guilty, [McGee lawyer Mark] Fury said, he also agreed to cooperate with investigators and named Fryar "because he's famous," and also named his mother. McGhee "was attempting to refinance her house" and went to Barksdale for assistance, Fury said. "The state will not be able to prove she knowingly submitted five applications to defraud the banks. Once the brokers get involved, you don't know what happens to your signature," he said, referring to mortgage schemes that occurred after the real estate collapse.
Michael Gilberti, a Little Silver, N.J., attorney who represents Fryar, said that the state is claiming his client is a co-conspirator with Barksdale and his mother, but Fryar "never took any money." Gilberti said Fryar and McGhee "were victims of this thing," contending Barksdale devised a scheme to manipulate the banks into providing loans they normally would not approve. Robert Agre, a Cherry Hill lawyer who represents Barksdale, dismissed the remarks, saying, "Mr. Barksdale has accepted responsibility for acts which led to federal charges" but is "unwilling to accept responsibility for actions in which others engaged of their own volition."
Fryar's mother was freed without bail; the former Eagles star's bail was $20,000. Now that they're freed, I worry: They've fingered a major player in the Barksdale Organization. I guess there's a chance William Barksdale isn't connected to the fictional drug-dealing gang in The Wire, but just look at his last name! He has to be a soldier of Avon's!
The alleged acts are in no way as bad as a confirmed act Fryar admitted to in the past, however. In 1998, Fryar accepted a motorcyle as a retirement gift from the Eagles. Then, while working for Channel 6, he unretired and signed with Washington's football team. He did actually gave back the motorcycle, but not all was forgiven. "People there hate me, don't they?" he said in 2000.