UFC fighter Chael Sonnen, recently in the spotlight for a suspension related to a failed drug test related to UFC 117, plead guilty to one count of federal money laundering on Monday, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon.
Sonnen admitted that a financial transaction designed to hide or disguise the ownership and control of proceeds of wire fraud.
The money laundering carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
“The scheme involved Joel Rosabal and Chadwick Amsden, employees of Crown Point Enterprises, dba Lighthouse Financial Group (Lighthouse), a mortgage brokerage service based principally in Vancouver, Washington, with operations in Oregon and elsewhere,” the press release revealed. “Rosabal and Amsden submitted a materially false loan application on the buyer’s behalf… Sonnen acted as the realtor for the transaction. Sonnen submitted a false letter and Sales Agreement Addendum instructing the title company to pay loan proceeds to a plumbing company for repairs to the home. In fact, Sonnen knew and had negotiated with Rosabal that no repairs would be performed on the home and the funds designated to the plumbing company would instead be paid to the buyer as a cash incentive to purchase the home. This agreement was not disclosed to (the mortgage company). Once the loan was funded, the title company paid over $69,000 to the plumbing company and the plumbing company, in turn and at Sonnen’s direction, paid $65,000 to the buyer of the home.”
A report on The Oregonian’s web site said that the government is recommending Sonnen be sentenced to two years of probation. It went on to state that as part of a plea deal, Sonnen agreed to give up his Realtor’s license and pay a $10,000 fine, according to Michelle Holman Kerin, the assistant U.S. attorney handling the case.
Sentencing for the money laundering charge is set for March 28, which would be less than two weeks after UFC 128.
Sonnen had a one-year suspension for the positive drug test result reduced to six months at an appeal before the California State Athletic Commission in December. His suspension is up March 2. He would then be eligible to return to fighting.
MMAJunkie.com is reporting that he will return at UFC 128 to face Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Sonnen had not returned a request for comment prior to the time of publication.
(UPDATED at 8:55 p.m. PT on Jan. 3, 2011 – Added information regarding Sonnen’s plea agreement and the possibility of him fighting at UFC 128.)