A trucker who conned former Chicago Bears kickoff return star Devin Hester and others out of $1.5 million pleaded guilty Wednesday and said he’s struggling with booze and gambling addictions.
Gregg Steinnagel, 53, promised quick, large profits to Hester if he invested with a pal, then kept the cash for himself.
The pair met after Hester — who famously ran back the opening kickoff of Superbowl XLI for a touchdown — paid Steinnagel to transport a car from Lake County to Florida, where he grew up.
Steinnagel admitted Wednesday that he teamed up with a flight attendant named Jeffrey Fazzio, who posed as an attorney using the alias “Neal Rubenstein.”
After transporting the player’s car to Florida, Steinnagel introduced the player to Fazzio and promised huge returns at low risk for investments in distressed real estate.
Devin Hester in his Chicago Bears glory days | File photo
Starting in 2011, Hester made several small investments that paid off; then Steinnagel and Fazzio took him for 14 investments totaling nearly $400,000, court documents state.
Fazzio, of Pittsburgh, has since died but Steinnagel was arrested at his Chicago home in May.
Prosecutors said Steinnagel gambled with the loot he stole from Hester and others at casinos in the Chicago area, Nevada and Florida.
Steinnagel admitted Wednesday that he’s being treated by a doctor for alcohol and gambling problems.
He’s due to be sentenced in the new year. Federal sentencing guidelines suggest he should get between 41 and 51 months in prison, though his attorney is free to ask for less.
Hester currently plays for the Atlanta Falcons. His representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.