RICHMOND, Va. — A former UVA football player was sentenced Friday to 40 years in prison for a $10 million investment fraud scheme, and a separate loan fraud scheme.
Merrill Robertson Jr., 39, of Chesterfield, started Cavalier Union Investments, LLC, and Black Bull Wealth Management, LLC, with co-conspirator Sherman Carl Vaughn. According to court documents, from 2008-2016, Robertson and Vaughn solicited people to invest money in private investment funds that they managed, as well as distinct investment opportunities that they proposed.
Robertson found investors through contacts he developed playing football at Fork Union Military Academy, the University of Virginia, and in the National Football League, while Vaughn focused on developing investment opportunities
Court documents say that Robertson led investors to believe he was an experienced investment advisor, that his company was qualified to serve as a custodian of retirement accounts, that investor money was deposited into individual tax-deferred retirement accounts, and that investor money was secured by tangible cash-producing assets owned by his company.
In the end, Robertson and Vaughn fraudulently obtained more than $10 million from over 60 investors and spent much of the money on their own personal living expenses, including mortgage and car payments, school tuitions, spa visits, restaurants, department stores, and vacations.
By 2015, Robertson and Vaughn had spent most of the money they collected from investors and were unable to raise new investor capital.
In an attempt to mitigate the problem, Robertson approached Cavalier investors and other friends and offered to help them get loans in exchange for a portion of the loan proceeds. He then caused falsified loan applications to be submitted to various banks and credit unions on behalf of his investors, enabling him to obtain $250,000 through falsified loan applications to at least 5 financial institutions.