HAMMOND | A Merrillville man was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison Friday for defrauding friends of at least $1.5 million in an investment scheme.
Eugene Wilson Sr., 57, who is the father and namesake of a former Merrillville High School and professional football player, pleaded guilty last year to two counts of wire fraud in Hammond federal court.
As part of his sentence, Wilson also will be required to pay $1.7 million in restitution and serve one year on supervised release after his 42-month federal prison sentence, the Hammond-based U.S. attorney's office said Friday.
In a separate case, Wilson was convicted in the spring on federal charges of scheming to avoid legal reporting of about $190,000 he received from his son, former National Football League player Eugene Wilson Jr., court records show.
As part of the wire fraud scheme, the elder Wilson admitted in court documents he convinced three friends to give him more than $1.5 million with an investment promise of paying them back a high rate of return in a short period of time.
The elder Wilson then sent most of the money to unnamed individuals in Europe and spent the rest, his plea agreement states.
One of the would-be investors gave Wilson $600,000, which was never repaid, court documents state.