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Former Vikings part-owner sentenced in white-collar cryptocurrency fraud case

Give me your best “frauds” jokes in the comments, please

2/14/2005 Eden Prarie, MN—An agreement was reached today for Red McCombs to sell the Vikings to Reggie Fowler a 46 yr. old business man from Arizona. If the deal is finalized Fowler will be the first African-American general owner of a National Football
Reggie Fowler in 2005
Photo by STORMI GREENER/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Reginald “Reggie” Fowler, a high-level football businessman with historical ties to the Minnesota Vikings, was sentenced to 75 months in prison and also required to forfeit around an eye-watering $740 million (and another $53 million in restitution) in Manhattan federal court yesterday, according to the Associated Press.

Fowler attempted to purchase the Vikings in 2005 (as a part of the group led by current owner Ziggy Wilf) from former Purple and Gold owner Red McCombs.

Fowler, who put up $20 million in that bid, wished to become a general partner but was unable to do so (he could not provide details about his stake in the ownership group), so he became a limited partner to make use of the $20 million he put down.

Fowler ceased his involvement with the Vikings in 2014, and around the same time defaulted with over $60 million in debt to various institutions.

Those debts apparently did not stop his appetite for investing, becoming a major figure in the Alliance of American Football setting up for play in 2019. Fowler pulled his funding after just one week of that season, leading to the AAF hastily selling Fowler’s shares en route to the league’s eventual dissolution.

Fowler’s involvement in the AAF was terminated after having his funds frozen by the Department of Justice due to his involvement in a wide-ranging cryptocurrency fraud scheme run through a company called Bitfinex (a cryptocurrency exchange), which had used a different company to cover up losses of over $850 million.

Fowler was indicted for his involvement in an unlicensed money-transmitting business for cryptocurrency traders. After his indictment, Fowler was found to be in possession of $14,000 in counterfeit currency as well as hiding an $850 million loss from investors.

In April 2022, Fowler pleaded guilty to bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business, conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, and wire fraud.

The prosecution, led by Federal Attorney Damian Williams, told the AP that Fowler put the “US Financial Market to serious risk” and “victimized a professional football league by lying about his net worth in exchange for a substantial portion of the league.”

Fowler’s defense attorney Edward Sapone filed a statement for Fowler in a sentencing submission:

‘’Reggie is extremely remorseful. The American Football League didn’t benefit from the investment that Reggie had planned to make. Reggie’s bank accounts were frozen, he could not secure the investment money, and he was not able to invest the large sum of money he promised to invest.”