Disbarred Attorney Sentenced to 14 Years for Defrauding NFL Players of Millions

Staff report
 |  Tallahassee Democrat

A disbarred Tallahassee attorney this week was sentenced to 14 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to defrauding clients — professional football players who had suffered concussions or other brain injuries — of millions of dollars from the settlement of a National Football League class-action lawsuit.

Phillip Timothy Howard, 62, used his law firm and several Tallahassee investment companies under his control to rip off his clients, committing wire fraud and money laundering, federal prosecutors said in a news release.

When he is released, he’ll have to serve three years on what’s called supervised release, a kind of probation, and he must pay over $12 million in restitution.

Nearly 20,000 retired players in 2015 negotiated a settlement with the NFL, with over $1 billion in payable claimswhich includes those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and for players who died before April 2015 from chronic traumatic encephalopathyor CTE, USA TODAY has reported.

From 2015 to 2018, “Howard fraudulently enticed his clients to invest … with his investment companies,” the release said, adding that the “former NFL player-investors were provided fraudulent quarterly and year-end investment statements.”

“Despite reassuring investors that their money was secure, (he) never informed them that almost none of the investment funds yielded a return and failed to disclose that the investment funds had been commingled with funds used to operate his law firm and to issue payroll for its staff, pay Howard’s personal mortgages, and otherwise personally enrich (him),” prosecutors said.

Moreover, “Howard sought third-party lenders that would be willing to lend money to Howard’s former NFL clients in advance of their potential NFL concussion settlements as part of the NFL class-action lawsuit … (but) Howard and others fraudulently obtained and attempted to obtain approximately $8 million from (those) lenders.”

2023-11-08 10:24:52
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