CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Federal prosecutors want to garnish the pension of imprisoned former Cleveland Browns player Reggie Rucker receives from the NFL to pay back the money he embezzled from his nonviolence nonprofits.
The U.S. Attorney's Office wrote in a court filing last week that Rucker owes $110,482.02, the vast majority of the restitution a federal judge ordered him to pay, and that any earnings from the NFL should go to the nonprofits.
Prosecutors say this would include earnings on a pension, which Rucker's attorney confirmed he receives. It might also include money Rucker receives as part of a nearly $1 billion class-action settlement the NFL agreed to pay to football players who suffered concussions during their careers.
Rucker, a Warrensville Heights resident, said before his sentencing that his concussion settlement would go towards restitution.
The federal clerk of court's office sent a notice Wednesday to the NFL. The league has a chance to object, as does Rucker.
The 69-year-old former wide receiver pleaded guilty in February 2016 to wire fraud and making false statements to the FBI. He admitted to using the bank accounts of his non-profit agencies as his own. He is serving a 21-month sentence at a federal prison in Lisbon.
Prosecutors say Rucker wrote himself checks for thousands of dollars and withdrew cash at ATMs and at casinos across the country. Meanwhile, he often ran the agencies, including the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance, into the red -- sometimes while his outreach workers went months without a paycheck.
Rucker used the stolen money to pay off gambling debts and personal expenses, all while making impassioned pleas for money from other philanthropic organizations and the city of Cleveland.
Rucker argued that traumatic brain injury he suffered during his 13-year career as a football player may have caused his actions, an assertion at which prosecutors scoffed. Michael Hennenberg, one of Rucker's attorneys, said his client suffered seven or eight concussions that he knows of during his career.
Should Rucker receive any money as part of the concussion settlement, it would not be for some time. Football players who feel they are entitled to damages have several months to submit claims.
Justin Withrow, an attorney representing Rucker, reiterated Monday that the former Brown "does intend to fulfill his promise" in using NFL concussion settlement money to pay back what he stole.
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