Former Philadelphia Eagles player Irving Fryar and his mother, Allene McGhee, were found guilty Friday of charges of conspiracy and theft by deception stemming from a $1.2 million mortgage scheme that prosecutors said victimized seven lending institutions in South Jersey and Philadelphia in 2009.
Fryar, a Pro Bowl wide receiver who retired from the NFL in 2001 after playing for 17 years with four teams, and his mother, a retired school bus driver from Willingboro, showed no emotion as a jury in Mount Holly announced the verdict after more than 11 hours of deliberation.
After the jury of nine women and three men was ushered out, McGhee sobbed softly and stayed in her seat for several minutes in apparent shock, as Fryar and two supporters went to hug and console her.
Fryar, 52, and McGhee, 74, face a maximum of 10 years in prison when they are sentenced by Superior Court Judge Jeanne T. Covert on Oct. 2.
Fryar, now a minister at a church he founded in Mount Holly, caught the eye of one of his 12 supporters who had attended each day of the nearly three-week trial.
"C'mon, it's all right," he said in a booming voice as the man appeared to tear up. "We are not going to do that. No, we're not going to do that."
Michael Gilberti, Fryar's lawyer, plans to appeal. He said Fryar would have no comment, and the supporters left the courthouse silently.
McGhee's attorney, Mark Fury, said he planned to file a motion to overturn the verdict on the ground of prosecutorial misconduct.
Fury said that Deputy Attorney General Mark Kurzawa misled the jury in closing statements by saying McGhee had a role in the scheme. Fury noted that the prosecution's key witness, William Barksdale, a convicted Levittown mortgage broker who had orchestrated the plan, had testified McGhee was unaware she was being used to cheat the banks when she applied for multiple home equity lines of credit.
Fury said Barksdale had told McGhee he would get the best interest rate and then cancel all but one of the loans.
"We are, of course, surprised and deeply saddened by the judgment rendered by this jury," Fury said.
Fury and Gilberti had argued that their clients were conned by Barksdale, who admitted in his plea agreement that he was the mastermind of the scheme.
In return for testifying against Fryar and McGhee, he was sentenced to 20 months in prison, though he had faced a maximum of 30 years and a recommended term of at least five years.
Neither Fryar nor McGhee took the stand during the nearly three-week trial in Burlington County.
None of the jurors would comment on the verdict, but one sighed and said that reaching it "was a lot."
The panel began deliberating Wednesday, and had asked for a read-back of Barksdale's entire testimony and a definition of "purposeful" with regard to the conspiracy charges.
Kurzawa and Deputy Attorney General John Nicodemo, who assisted in the trial, declined to comment afterward.
In the lobby, they congratulated state Division of Criminal Justice Detective Kimberly Allen, who had examined voluminous bank documents from six community banks, as well as a mortgage company to trace the fraud.
McGhee misstated her income to the mortgage company to obtain a mortgage on Fryar's Springfield Township house, to retrieve it from foreclosure. She falsely claimed she earned between $72,000 and $84,000 as an event coordinator at Fryar's church, the New Jerusalem House of God.
McGhee similarly falsified her income in her applications for the six home equity lines of credit.
She also used her Willingboro house, valued at $200,000, as collateral for all six loans, without disclosing her multiple applications to the banks. One bank later foreclosed on her home, and the other five wrote off the loans as losses.
Barksdale had testified that the loans were all deposited into his bank account because he held the mortgage on the Willingboro house, and had given Fryar more than $300,000 so that the former football star could get his house out of foreclosure and pay off investors in his side house-flipping business.
The judge denied the state's motions to revoke Fryar's $20,000 bail and McGhee's signature bail, and to set new bail at $100,000 each. She said their crimes were not violent and they had appeared at every court hearing over the last two years.