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Former NFL football player Erxleben arrested in Ponzi scheme

By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Former college All-American and National Football League kicker Russell Erxleben was arrested by federal agents on Thursday at his home near Austin, Texas on federal fraud charges.

Erxleben, 56, was charged in a federal indictment unsealed on Thursday with five counts of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud and two counts of money laundering.

In 1999, he was convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and was sentenced to 84 months in prison.

This time, Erxleben was charged with setting up several companies and soliciting investors in a scheme to buy post-World War One German government gold bearer bonds and a painting by French artist Paul Gauguin.

Instead, Erxleben used investor money for himself and to pay dividends to previous investors, a classic Ponzi scheme, said Darrell Fields, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas.

"Erxleben made various wire transfers using numerous financial accounts which were opened and maintained by others, including family members, in an effort to avoid detection," Fields said.

The scheme generated more than $2 million, Fields said. Erxleben still owes $28 million in restitution from his previous fraud conviction, Fields said.

Erxleben is also charged with failing to disclose to his new investors his role in the 1999 conviction.

Erxleben was an All-American kicker for the University of Texas in the 1970s, where he kicked the longest field goal in college football history, 67 yards. He was drafted in the first round in 1977 by the New Orleans Saints, where he played for six seasons.

Erxleben will remain in federal custody pending a detention hearing set for next week, Fields said.

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Greg McCune; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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