As previously suspected
, Reggie Rucker, the former Cleveland Browns wide receiver and former head of two local "violence interruption" organizations, was sentenced to 21 months in Federal prison Wednesday for embezzling funds from his local non-profits.
Rucker had agreed to a plea deal in February in which he'd be sentenced to 21-27 months in prison. (He asked to be sent to a minimum-security facility in Morgantown, W.Va.) He's also required to pay back more than $110,000 of the money he took.
"This is the most embarrassing thing that I've experienced in my life," Rucker said at his sentencing.
Rucker withdrew money from his two organizations' accounts, using it for his mortgage, meals, entertainment and travel expenses. He was charged with one count each of wire fraud and making false statements to law enforcement. Rucker was characterized by Acting U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon, in a statement, as having used the account of his local charities as a personal ATM.
“Reggie Rucker misused his celebrity and position in the community to dupe some of our most important local foundations and generous citizens,” Rendon said. “He stole from the very violence interrupters he so publicly claimed to support. In one breath he begged generous donors to save Amer-I-Can and the Peacemakers Alliance, and in the next he stole that money to support his lifestyle and his gambling junkets in Cleveland, Florida, and Las Vegas."
Cleveland.com's Eric Heisig reported
that Rendon took issue with Rucker's statement at the sentencing Wednesday, suggesting that his wording indicated he might not be aware of the gravity of his actions.
But judge Dan Polster decided that the minimum sentence in the agreed-upon range was sufficient punishment for the remorseful Rucker, who will undergo mental treatment for his gambling addiction and "impulse control" issues. Lawyers argued that Rucker's crimes were the result, at least in part, of head trauma sustained while in the NFL.