(Bloomberg) -- A former minority owner of the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings was ordered to serve more than six years behind bars, forfeit $740 million and pay $53 million in restitution after admitting he helped cryptocurrency exchanges avoid money-laundering rules.
Reginald Fowler, 64, an Arizona businessman who was part of a group of investors that bought the Vikings in 2005, was sentenced to 75 months in prison Monday by US District Judge Andrew L. Carter Jr. in New York. Fowler pleaded guilty in April 2022 to five counts, including wire and bank fraud and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business.
According to prosecutors, Fowler established Global Trading Solutions LLC, which worked with a company called Crypto Capital that allowed cryptocurrency exchanges to swap their digital currencies for cash. Fowler was accused of opening several accounts at US banks by falsely claiming they were for real estate investment transactions when the true purpose was to handle crypto transactions.
“I’m very sorry, I’m very remorseful, I’m very sad,” an emotional Fowler told the judge in a Manhattan courtroom. He had asked to avoid prison and serve a sentence of home detention and community service. “If you give me the opportunity to show you I can do right, I will,” he said before sentencing.
Prosecutors sought at least a seven-year sentence, arguing in court filings that Fowler played a “critical role in a serious criminal enterprise” and helped Crypto Capital operate as a “shadow bank” that allowed users of cryptocurrency to avoid law enforcement.
Fowler tried to buy the Vikings for $600 million in 2005, but had to settle for a minority stake when he couldn’t come up with the cash, according to the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. His involvement with the team ended in 2014.
Carter said Fowler can report to prison in 21 days, after rejecting a request by prosecutors that he be taken into custody immediately. Assistant US Attorney Sheb Swett told the judge that investigators had recently heard from witnesses who suggested that Fowler’s “romantic partner” had recently traveled to Europe to withdraw money for him.
However, Carter said Fowler doesn’t pose a risk to flee and gave him time to get his affairs in order, including finding someone to care for his dog.
The case is U.S. v. Fowler, 19-cr-254, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
(Updates with Fowler’s comments.)
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