Con man once accused of swindling Devin Hester lands back in court

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A Chicago truck driver headed to prison this summer after being accused of conning former Chicago Bears kickoff return star Devin Hester and others out of $1.5 million nearly lost his freedom Thursday after an encounter with an alleged victim in a north suburb.

Gregg Steinnagel pleaded guilty in November to one federal count of wire fraud — not involving Hester — and he admitted scheming with another man to swindle investors into fake deals on distressed real estate. U.S. District Court Judge John Z. Lee sentenced Steinnagel last week to four years in prison and told him to surrender in July, records show.

But Steinnagel wound up back in Lee’s courtroom Thursday, listening to his attorney explain how Steinnagel wound up parked Sunday night in a Glenview McDonald’s parking lot next to a man who had testified against him two days earlier.

“[Steinnagel] was there 16 seconds,” said Dennis Berkson, Steinnagel’s attorney.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Havey said the alleged victim was parked in the “back end” of the lot when Steinnagel pulled up beside him and seemed to make a comment. He said the alleged victim tried to take a photo of Steinnagel with his phone. But Berkson said Steinnagel did what he was supposed to do — leave — and the alleged victim chased him. Both called 911, Berkson said.

Havey asked the judge to revoke Steinnagel’s bond or put him on home confinement, calling him a “convicted con man.”

“Anything he says, frankly, cannot be believed,” Havey said.

But Lee did neither. He said he would give Steinnagel the “benefit of the doubt” but warned there would be “ramifications” if Steinnagel stepped out of line in the future.

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