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Former Dallas Cowboy Sentenced in Mortgage Fraud Case

Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Eugene Lockhart will spend more than four years in prison, three years after he was initially arrested for his alleged involvement in a mortgage fraud operation that resulted in losses of approximately $20 million dollars. The 50-year-old Texas native pled guilty to criminal charges stemming from the arrest in 2011.

Investigators say Lockhart and a number of other people illegally obtained 54 property loans by recruiting "straw purchasers" and manipulating sales prices by falsifying their financial details. Prosecutors say the conspirators established several real estate firms in order to help them with the scheme, several of which had names referencing Lockhart's time with the Cowboys. Courts have handed down guilty to verdicts to 10 accused participants, two of whom have been sentenced. The Dallas man accused of designing and leading the scheme was sentenced to 10 years in prison for bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Lockhart's attorney asked for a sentence of two years of home incarceration for the former NFL star, arguing that it would help with deal with his numerous medical conditions; Lockhart suffered seven concussions during his career, which have left him with persistent brain damage and several other ailments. The attorney told reporters that Lockhart received an unfair sentence due to his past with the Cowboys. He argued that his client's fame "hurt the entire case."

While Lockhart's attorney has repeatedly played down the former linebacker's involvement in the mortgage fraud, Lockhart himself apologized for his participation in the scheme and explained that his behavior was "out of character" with his values and upbringing.

After Lockhart's arrest in 2009, he was released from police custody. However, he allegedly violated the terms of that release in 2011. He remained in home incarceration from that time until his recent sentencing.

Source: DallasNews.com, "Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Lockhart gets 54 months in $20 million mortgage fraud case," Kevin Krause, Dec. 12, 2012