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Ex-Eagle Fryar released from jail

NFL star Irving Fryar was released from a New Jersey state prison this month after serving eight months of a five-year sentence he received last year for his role in a $1.2 million mortgage scheme.

NFL star Irving Fryar was released from a New Jersey state prison this month after serving eight months of a five-year sentence he received last year for his role in a $1.2 million mortgage scheme.

The former Eagle, who was a pastor at a Mount Holly church when a jury convicted him of conspiracy and theft by deception charges last August, was freed on June 6 and enrolled in the state's Intensive Supervision Program. The program is offered to eligible nonviolent offenders who are amenable to rehabilitation and have no criminal record.

Under the program, Fryar, 53, was permitted to return to his Burlington County home. He will be regularly monitored by court staff for at least 16 months. He will be subject to home visits, searches, and an initial curfew of 6 p.m., according to guidelines. He also will not be able to leave the state without permission.

Fryar is also required to make regular payments on the total of $615,600 in restitution that he and his mother, Allene McGhee, must pay to various lending institutions they conspired to defraud. Court officials said it is unclear how much Fryar is expected to pay each time toward the amount. McGhee, 74, formerly of Willingboro, was sentenced to three years on probation and also must contribute to the total.

Neither Fryar nor McGhee could be reached for comment Thursday.

Fryar's lawyer, Michael V. Gilberti, said in an email that he has filed an appeal of Fryar's guilty verdict, and that a favorable ruling would clear Fryar's name and rescind the restitution order.

"While he cannot get back his time in jail, he can remove the conviction from his record," Gilberti said.

Mark Fury, a Mount Holly defense lawyer who represented McGhee during the trial, and who also had argued that Fryar was innocent, said Fryar's "meaningful ties to the community" were likely a reason Fryar was accepted into the program and approved for early release.

During sentencing last October, Superior Court Judge Jeanne T. Covert said that she believed Fryar would qualify for the program, and said he had lived a mostly law-abiding life.

Pete McAleer, a spokesman for the state Administrative Office of the Courts, said that after Fryar was incarcerated in October, he had applied for the ISP program. A panel of three judges in Middlesex County reviewed his case in March, McAleer said, when Fryar was eligible for early release. At that time, the panel determined that Fryar "needed to serve an additional three months for punitive reasons," McAleer said. Then, on June 6, a two-judge panel held a brief hearing and approved Fryar's enrollment in the program.

During such hearings, applicants must take responsibility for their actions, according to the program guidelines.

Fryar told the two-judge panel that he planned to return to his duties as pastor at the New Jerusalem Church of God, and would also seek work as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation counselor, McAleer said. As a condition of his release, the judges ordered him to secure two wage-paying jobs in order to pay off his restitution.

There are more than 1,200 inmates in the program at any time, according to the ISP guidelines. The program started in the 1980s as a way to free up prison beds and allow nonviolent offenders, as long as they adhered to rules, to reenter the community sooner.

Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, said the attorneys who prosecuted the case "did not take any position regarding Fryar's application for ISP. . . . We left it to the discretion of the court." He said that under the ISP program, Fryar is still "technically serving his sentence but in a different form."

Matt Schuman, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said that if an offender violated the terms of ISP, he would face a return to jail.

"The perception that inmates are coddled in this program is not accurate, because it is a strict program," he said.

Fryar and his mother were convicted in connection with false wage information they provided on mortgage applications that were submitted in rapid succession in late 2009 and early 2010 to seven lending institutions in South Jersey and Philadelphia. William Barksdale, a former Levittown mortgage broker who facilitated the scheme, testified against the two, and received 10 months in federal prison for his role in several similar schemes.

Fryar served his eight months at Jones Farm, a minimum security institution in Trenton.

A five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, Fryar retired from the NFL in 2001 after playing for 17 years on four teams.

856-779-3224 @JanHefler