CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) –
Reggie Rucker was charged in federal court Tuesday for allegedly using charitable donations to anti-violence groups he led to pay his gambling debts and personal expenses, including mortgage payments, meals, and entertainment, law enforcement officials said. He was also charged with lying to the FBI when questioned about his alleged diversion of charitable funds.
Rucker, 68, of Warrensville Heights and a former player with theCleveland Browns, was charged in a criminal information with one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements to law enforcement.
“Reggie Rucker misused his celebrity and position in the community to dupe some of our most important local foundations and generous citizens,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon. “He stole from the very violence interrupters he so publicaly claimed to support. In one breath he begged generous donors to save Amer-I-Can and the Peacemakers Alliance, and in the next he stole that money to support his lifestyle and his gambling junkets in Cleveland, Florida, and Las Vegas, using the charity’s account as his own ATM.”
“Mr. Rucker used his position of trust to help fund his gambling habits and personal expenses, and ultimately, he betrayed those that supported his work in the community,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Office. “The FBI will continue to work with our partners to identify and hold accountable those who chose to commit such fraud.”
Rucker served as executive director of Amer-I-Can Cleveland, a nonprofit organization located in Shaker Heights. Rucker also served as president of the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance, a collaboration of community organizations that employed outreach workers to resolve conflicts in Cleveland. Rucker solicited charitable contributions and deposited them into Amer-I-Can’s bank account, according to the information.
From 2011 through February 11, 2015, Rucker diverted funds intended to support Amer-I-Can and CPA for his personal use and in excess of any compensation he was entitled to receive. Rucker wrote checks to himself and made withdrawals from the Amer-I-Can bank account in amounts and frequencies unrelated to the work he performed, but rather dictated by his own personal financial needs, including to pay his mortgage, entertainment, meals, travel, groceries, and dry cleaning, according to the information.
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Article and Picture Courtesy of WOIO Cleveland 19 News