Feb 082007
 
Authors: Emily Polak

Two former CSU football players who pled guilty to theft and forgery for their part in a theft ring originally claimed to be victims of the crimes, according to court records obtained by the Collegian.

Micah Crews and Daniel Foster both pled guilty to one count each of felony forgery and misdemeanor theft in past months. But according to search and arrest warrant affidavits filed February of last year, both claimed to be victims of the scheme involving stolen debit cards and PIN numbers.

“I feel bad because those guys got kicked off the football team,” said Jon Radford, a teammate and victim of the scheme.

Crews and Foster were arrested and charged in September along with five others, three of whom were also current or former Rams players.

Two more former players, Cleodis Floyd and Alphonso Williams, were also indicted in the grand jury investigation in October. They are scheduled to appear in court later this month.

Michael Justice, another man suspected in the thefts, was also indicted by the grand jury and is facing more than 30 counts of forgery and theft. Justice remains at large, with a warrant out for his arrest.

According to court documents, debit cards and PIN numbers were stolen and used to obtain money orders at Wal-Mart and the post office. The money orders were made out to Cleodis Floyd and Alphonso Williams, and some were deposited in Floyd’s account.

Court records name Radford, Crews, Foster, Landon Taylor and Kerrianne Leslie as victims of the crime. However, Crews and Foster later pled guilty in the scheme.

Preston Garcia, a junior; Brian Abata, a sophomore; Tramell McGill, Calee Chleboun and Robert Herbert have also pled guilty to a variety of felony and misdemeanor theft and forgery charges – all owe varying amounts of restitution in the case, ranging from $2,000 to $16,000

Victims of the scheme – including banks – were defrauded of more than $90,000 collectively, according to court records.

Herbert’s lawyer, Erik Fischer, said Floyd and Justice were the ringleaders of the operation.

“Herbert was not one of the main guys,” Fischer said. “The other guys definitely had a better idea of what was going on.”

Fischer said he anticipates Herbert’s record will be wiped clean after he completes his deferred sentence.

“He was a friend and was asked to cash checks,” Fischer said.

Chleboun’s lawyer had similar comments.

“It would appear that Ms. Chleboun was one of the minor participants of a major problem,” said Chleboun’s attorney, Leonard Chesler.

Chesler said Chleboun was enlisted by a friend of a friend to partake in the scheme.

“She was asked if she wanted to make some money by running some errands,” Chesler said. “It turned out the business was unlawful.”

According to Chesler, Chleboun was treated fairly for her role in the scheme.

“Ms. Chleboun is very, very grateful that the district attorney was exceedingly thorough and extremely fair.”

The defendants who are students are still facing hearings through CSU conflict resolution and disciplinary services.

“Based on the information in the hearing, the university could choose to make a decision about the students’ relationship with the university,” said Anne Hudgens, director of judicial affairs. “Students have a right to due process.”

The office is unable to release specific information about the case because of privacy laws.

Abata, Crews and Herbert have been suspended from the team indefinitely. Their future with the team is undecided at this point.

“Before we could even make a decision about their athletic futures, we would have to see what came out of the university judicial process,” said Gary Ozzello, a spokesman for the CSU athletic department. “We’ll see what happens with the judicial process and go from there.”

According to Landon, there was no knowledge among the football team about what was going on while the crimes were being committed.

“I didn’t know anything,” Landon said. “Nobody on the team knew.”

Staff writer Emily Polak can be reached at news@collegian.com

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