Former athletes' adviser charged in Ponzi scheme

Aug 24, 2009 - 11:52 PM By JOSH FUNK Associated Press Writer.

OMAHA, Neb.(AP) -- Federal prosecutors have charged a woman who once advised Michael Vick and several other NFL players with stealing $3 million from eight victims in a Ponzi scheme.

Prosecutors say Mary Wong worked out of her Omaha home and purported to sell investments in luxury properties in Arizona, Tennessee and Michigan along with private jets and other investments. But according to the indictment unsealed Monday, Wong used the money she raised to support her other businesses and a lavish lifestyle for herself, her business partners and clients.

Prosecutors say some money from new investors was used to pay past investors, as in a Ponzi scheme.

Wong has not been registered to sell securities investments since August 2004, according to court documents, and in September 2007, she was permanently barred from trading securities on the New York Stock Exchange.

Wong's attorney, Clarence Mock, did not immediately respond to a message left Monday afternoon.

Three NFL players who played for the University of Nebraska were partners in a corporation that Wong ran although she also ran her own investment business.

Demorrio Williams of the Kansas City Chiefs and twins Josh Bullocks of the Chicago Bears and Daniel Bullocks of the Detroit Lions were partners with Wong in Williams & Bullocks LLC, which prosecutors say benefited from the Ponzi scheme.

Williams and both Bullocks brothers used to play for the University of Nebraska.

Williams and Daniel Bullocks did not immediately respond to messages left with their teams. Josh Bullocks said he couldn't discuss the matter Monday afternoon because he was getting ready for practice.

The federal indictment against Wong identifies her victims only by initials, so it was not immediately clear Monday who lost money and whether Vick's money was involved in the scheme.

Vick sued Wong in January seeking to recover at least $2 million from her; that case is still pending in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Va. Vick's current team, the Philadelphia Eagles, referred questions to his publicist, who did not immediately respond to a message left Monday evening.

According to Vick's lawsuit, Wong persuaded Vick to give her power of attorney, putting her in control of his finances, but did not disclose the sanction she received from the New York Stock Exchange for depositing a customer's money into her personal bank account.

Vick's lawsuit also alleged that Wong transferred to Williams and the Bullockses $650,000 from Vick's bank accounts and $175,000 from the sale of Georgia income tax credits owned by Vick. Also, a $200,000 transfer from a Vick pension plan account could subject Vick to financial penalties.

Wong responded to the allegations about Vick's money in a June court filing, denying any wrongdoing. She acknowledged holding Vick's power of attorney, but said she "exercised discretionary authority" over his assets.

Vick signed with Philadelphia on Aug. 13 after serving nearly two years in federal prison for his role in a dogfighting conspiracy. He remains suspended by the NFL.

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