Former NFL linebacker, ex-Merrill broker gets 40 years in prison for $10M fraud
A former linebacker with the Philadelphia Eagles and one-time Merrill Lynch broker was sentenced to 40 years in prison for defrauding investors of $10 million, according to federal prosecutors.
Merrill Robertson Jr., 37, and a co-conspirator used client funds on personal expenses, such as car payments, vacations and spa visits, prosecutors said.
Robertson was sentenced last week in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia. A jury found him guilty in August on 15 counts, including five counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, four counts of bank fraud and two counts of money laundering.
The former Chesterfield, Virginia-based advisor was registered with Merrill Lynch from 2008 to 2009, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. After leaving the wirehouse, he and Sherman Carl Vaughn formed Cavalier Union Investments in 2010, according to the SEC, which filed a separate civil complaint against the two men in 2016.
“It starts out small,” the advisor told his compliance officer, authorities say. “You think you are going to pay it back.”February 24
A 75-year-old widowed retiree allegedly lost nearly half of her $3 million investment in the scheme.November 15
The wire fraud charge came nearly four years after the CFP Board revoked his certification.November 17
Robertson was not registered with another broker-dealer after leaving Merrill Lynch, according to BrokerCheck. Vaugh was not registered with any broker-dealer, per BrokerCheck.
Robertson met some of his roughly 60 victims through his associations with the NFL and the University of Virginia, where he also played football, federal prosecutors said.
From 2010 to 2016, Robertson and Vaughn misrepresented investments to their clients, promising clients in some instances that their funds would be put in purportedly safe investments and that they would receive returns of 10% to 20%.
The SEC alleges that Robertson and Vaughn lied to clients about their own investing sophistication as well as the stability of their firm. Instead, they used the clients as their "personal piggy bank," the regulator charges.
Robertson's attorney could not be reached for comment.
Last week, U.S. District Judge John Gibney Jr. denied Robertson's request for a new trial, according to court documents.
Vaughn has entered into a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, according to court documents and the Department of Justice. His attorney could not be reached for comment.