The credit card fraud investigation that has loomed over the Rutgers football team since last month and all of training camp has finally reached some clarity, per the latest report on Wednesday afternoon from NJ Advance Media’s Keith Sargeant.
Updated story on Rutgers football players getting charged, with a statement from Pat Hobbs, who expressed disappointment and frustration. https://t.co/89EgS5Zl0Q— Keith Sargeant (@KSargeantNJ) August 22, 2018
UPDATE: Sargeant and Craig McCarthy updated their original story and are now reporting that over 11,000 dollars was stolen by the eight current and former players. From their report “The players are accused of stealing credit card numbers and transferring funds from various Rutgers University Express Accounts for their own personal use” which was confirmed by Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey. Updated charges have been added to this story.
Update #2: Sargeant published an article on August 25th with specifics details of each player’s alleged conduct and what each of their charges involve.
Previously dismissed players K.J. Gray and Brenden DeVera were confirmed as the ringleaders of the credit card scam by police, per the report. They have been charged with promoting organized street crime and money laundering, which are second degree charges, as well as conspiracy to commit credit card fraud, a lesser charge. DeVera is set to appear in court on Thursday after being jailed, per the report. The other six players, who were held out of training camp when it began almost three weeks ago, have also been charged. Four of them, Malik Dixon, Syhiem Simmons, Edwin Lopez, Kobe Marfo, have been charged with money laundering and fraudulent use of credit cards. C.J. Onyechi and Naijee Jones have been charged with credit card fraud. Each player faces a charge of conspiracy to commit theft by deception, per the report. All six are defensive players and their involvement has negatively impacted depth on that side of the ball this season and beyond.
The report stated all eight were set to turn themselves into authorities on Wednesday and a court date has been set for September 13th, which the six players have been said to scheduled to report. DeVera is appearing in court on Thursday and there wasn’t a specific date mentioned for Gray in the report.
In addition, Sargeant reported on Wednesday evening that Lopez was also arrested in the spring on for possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of a gun. You can read his full report here. Gray had a similar incident earlier this year as well.
Sargeant indicated that in addition to Simmons leaving the program, who announced on social media over a week ago, Lopez has left as well and is enrolled at Garden City Community College in Kansas. The other four players have not been dismissed and according to the report, a decision won’t be made until their court date appearance.
While the news of these charges is disappointing for the Rutgers football program, athletic director Pat Hobbs and head coach Chris Ash have handled the situation well. In dismissing the two players at the center of the investigation quickly and holding the other six out of training camp, they managed a bad situation with swift and decisive action. The investigation had the potential to become a major distraction during training camp, but that has not been the case. While full closure has not been reached with the court date not occurring until after the season will have begun, the program can now for the most part, move forward.
In what is a critical season for Ash and the program, this investigation could serve as a unifying event and help focus the team more than ever before. Let’s hope at a minimum that the rest of the players in the program learn from the mistakes of the eight involved and the culture continues to improve moving forward. Rutgers opens the 2018 season on September 1st at home against Texas State.