Former NFL wide receiver Johnnie Morton Jr., who used to play for the Detroit Lions, the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, was sentenced Monday to two years’ probation for lying to a federal grand jury during an Internal Revenue Service criminal investigation.
Morton, 40, of Redondo Beach, Calif., testified under oath before a federal grand jury in Santa Ana, Calif. on September 30, 2009. The grand jury was inquiring into possible violations of federal money laundering laws by a business associate of Morton’s, Neang Chhorvann.
Chhorvann, 32, of Bishop, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering, including a purchase of a Lamborghini Murcielago on March 29, 2011. Chhorvann was scheduled to be sentenced on August 8, 2011 but failed to appear. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
During Morton’s grand jury testimony, the former NFL player testified that he did not have any business dealings with Chhorvann, but gave Chhorvann a few hundred thousand dollars as a personal loan. Morton also said in his grand jury testimony that he did not know an unidentified business associate of Chhorvann and the business Titan Water System.
Morton later admitted that he lied in his testimony before the grand jury. According to the plea agreement, throughout 2007, Morton gave Chhorvann over $2 million to be invested by Chhorvann. These payments included direct transfers to Chhorvann’s bank accounts and payments to car dealerships for automobile purchases by Chhorvann.
Morton also admitted that he called a third unidentified business associate of Chhorvan’s at the direction of Chhorvan. During the call, Morton purported to be a potential investor interested in a company called Titan Water System, in an attempt to lull the business associate for Chhorvann. Morton was aware at the time of the call that the business associate had invested approximately $500,000 with Chhorvann.
The investigations of Morton and Chhorvann were conducted by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Santa Ana.
Morton was originally drafted out of the University of Southern California by the Detroit Lions in 1994 and played for the Lions from 1994 to 2001. He later played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2002 to 2004 and the San Francisco 49ers in 2005. In 2007, he became a mixed martial arts fighter, but had just one match in which he lost by a knockout. He was subsequently suspended by the California State Athletic Commission for refusing to provide a urine sample for drug testing. A pre-fight sample reportedly tested positive for steroids.
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