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Reports: Chael Sonnen pleads guilty to money laundering ; TMZ says UFC ‘suspends’ him

By Zach Arnold | January 3, 2011

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Here we go with this report from The West Linn Tidings. Justin Klein, The Fight Lawyer, elaborates. Here’s the golden press release from The Justice Department (thanks to MMA Nation).

This is the matter that Sonnen was referring to in his interview with Mike Straka right after he had his December 2nd appeals meeting with the California State Athletic Commission.

“Well, you know, dealing with the commission… the commission’s a pretty small entity, but a commission has a lot of power over a guy like me. Uh… I haven’t really dealt with this matter until today. I had a team of lawyers. I’ve been dealing with, uh, the Federal Government, uh, all the way dating back almost five years ago, interfered with a campaign I had for public office, so that’s where my attention has been. I’m getting real close to, uh, reaching a deal with the Federal Government on that issue, but that’s where my focus has been. The lawyers handle things and business went well today.”

In essence, the reports claim that Sonnen was dealing with charges revolving around mortgage fraud. The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Washington (right next to Portland) claims that Lighthouse Financial Group was involved. Read The Columbian report for the full details on the case.

This report claims that he will receive two years of probation.

Here’s a simple graphic for you to look at regarding the legal case being made.

Update: TMZ says UFC has ‘suspended’ Sonnen. Love the fact that you can ‘suspend’ an independent contractor and treat him like an employee without the benefits.

Topics: Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 33 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

33 Responses to “Reports: Chael Sonnen pleads guilty to money laundering ; TMZ says UFC ‘suspends’ him”

  1. Zach Arnold says:

    Think about this story and put it into context — while Sonnen was busy with a CSAC appeals meeting and it turning into a circus, he’s been dealing with the Feds over this legal situation. Amazing.

    And my key word here for anti-spam is ‘carny.’ Apropos.

    • Mark says:

      And speaking of carnies, Alvarez & Meltzer were pretty amusing doing a preemptive explaining on why they support him staying with the UFC but crucified TNA for allowing Jeff Hardy to stay with his guilty plea to drug trafficking. Apparently a fake championship is very valuable.

  2. Coyote says:

    I feel sad for Chael, wait just for UFC to cut ties with him.

  3. grafdog says:

    He is a lying cheating rip off, in other words he is a shoe in candidate for president in 2012.

  4. EJ says:

    Man Chael is taking his whole heel act way too seriously. Seriously though, this is pretty wild not only was Sonnen dealing with the whole CSAC mess but with the federal goverment too. Looks like he actually ended up getting through all of it without losing everything unlike other pro-athletes. I mean getting his year suspension to 6 months is one thing but to get only probation for federal charges is a huge win for him. Now he’s got Akiyama scheduled at UFC 128, if he can somehow put all of this behind him and win he’ll be the new comeback kid.

  5. Kalle says:

    So he’s a cheater and a crook. Wonderful. The thought that all will forgiven if he wins makes me pretty damn depressed.

  6. mr. roadblock says:

    What’s ridiculous is that tax dollars were used to investigate this.

    A homeowner getting a bad mortgage gets a little help to the tune of $65k and people are worked into a lather.

    At the same point in time the federal government (the same clowns who ran this investigation on our tax dollars) devalued the US dollar by orchestrating the subprime mortgage collapse and repealing Glass-Steagall which led to the bank collapses.

    • edub says:

      Great points.

      And they negotiated a contract with AEG that led to the same executives who ran our economy into the ground to keep their bonuses which total over 100 million dollars.

      What a country.

  7. robthom says:

    I was kinda mad when Sonnen dropped the ball against silve at the time, but its turned out that it was kind of a good thing that he didn’t become the champion.

    It would have been an at least 2 fold clusterbunch, and embarrasing enough to possibley have gotten Sonnen fired.

    He might be lucky that he didn’t win also.

  8. Eric says:

    Man, Chael’s a good old fashioned lovable grifter. I don’t think he could do anything to make me root for him anymore, outside of an attempted robbery of Fort Knox.

  9. The Gaijin says:

    While I think Sonnen is a POS, this quote from the U.S. Attorney’s office had be laughing,

    “This office will continue to aggressively prosecute real estate professionals who committed the mortgage fraud that contributed to this country’s economic downturn and wreaked havoc on our community’s housing market. We entrusted these professionals to honestly broker real estate transactions and instead, they defrauded lending institutions throughout the country and left financial ruin in their wake,” said Dwight Holton, U. S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

    Marcus Williams, the Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigations for the Pacific Northwest said, “West Linn residents, and other residents throughout the Portland/Vancouver area, can rest assured knowing that federal law enforcement agencies take mortgage fraud very seriously because it played a major role in almost crippling this nation’s banking system just a few years ago.”

    Unbelievable. Let’s totally ignore that this was about 0.2% of the issue and think about the fact that the major banks basically perpetrated the largest, most far reaching ponzi scheme in history and received a government bailout to pay their bonuses and zero criminal sanctions…and then laugh at how misguided and corrupt the U.S. has become. As a Canadian living and working in the U.S. I have to say that it blows my mind daily.

    • Tradition Rules says:

      Well, that because the Canadian financial institutions are smart enough to have GOOD regulation, thats why they avoided this whole mess,…that’s another story> 🙂

      “Over regulation” can be a very bad thing, but no regulation is way beyond that.

      • The Gaijin says:

        That’s the funniest part of all of this – Canadian banks are getting all this press for how good they are (and they are solid banks mind you) but the truth is they would have been right at the trough with all of these other banks if not for the stringent regulations that restricted them from getting involved. They were extremely miffed they couldn’t participate in the sub-prime orgy (and if you look at their securities filings you’ll see that they still managed to get themselves some exposure to this mess)…funny how these things work sometimes.

        For all the b****-ing about regulations and this and that, it’s funny how it saved/saves them from themselves. The idea that de-regulation and self regulation is at all viable is such a joke…everyone that wants it just wants to line their own pockets at the expense of main street.

        • Garret says:

          You’re right with your assessment, however Canadian banks lowered interest rates to record lows and in turn handed out mortgages to people whom have no business owning a home. When interest rates ultimately increase, we’ll end up with a crisis similar to the sub-prime mortgage disaster in the U.S.

  10. Mark says:

    There’s no way they’re firing him for this, he’s too valuable. Of course if this was Nate Diaz who got popped for roids, made an ass out of himself, then plead guilty to a federal crime he’d be 86’ed in no time. But UFC still wants the Silva rematch by hook or by crook, so he’ll stay.

    Although with his big mouth it will be hysterical if he does go to a federal prison. A combination of his attitude and everybody wanting to say they beat up the UFC star will leave him constantly fighting. And praying he doesn’t drop the soap.

  11. 45 Huddle says:

    sonnen has some issues. That much is for sure.

    • The Gaijin says:

      But let’s be honest – he’s a draw, a large base of fans love him and want a rematch with Silva yesterday, and those that are particulary enamored with him will love him even more because all of these tribulations (which he’s created for himself no less).

      Just look at our own “EJ’s” thinly-veiled gushing over Sonnen and these developments. Somehow being shown as a “cheater” in mma and life – if the steroid test and ensuing debacle didn’t display what poor character he truly has, this should have erased all doubt – is actually colored as “victory” for “beating” systems. Basically he’s been the architect of his own problems by breaking the rules and being stupid enough to get continually caught, and he has fans who want us to laud him as a “comeback kid”…

      • 45 Huddle says:

        I agree he is a draw, but I really believe the UFC needs to put their own sanctions on fighters who were caught by roids.

        He got what? Something like 6 months? The UFC needs to enact their own rules that say something like this:

        “If a fighter gets a suspension by an AC for steroids, then we will atuomatically enforce. Additionally, the mandatory length of suspension from the UFC will be one year.”

        That guy got off way too easy and the UFC didn’t do anything about it.

        • The Gaijin says:

          I agree he got off way too easy – but that’s because the commission is run by a bunch of fools, who will reduce suspensions if you curse them out or make up insanely idiotic and untruthful defences.

          I can’t see the UFC hamstringing themselves by providing additional/longer mandatory suspensions, that’s along the lines of Gross’ argument that the UFC should use 3x and you’re out. Why give any advantage to the “competition” on something like that? It’s probably a relatively small issue because if you want to play with the big boys you’ve gotta fight in the UFC, but as long as DW can say “hey we’re complying with the commissions sanctions” I really doubt we’ll see anything different.

        • The Gaijin says:

          Good call 45 – they’ve (UFC) suspended Sonnen.

          Guess they had to take some of the steam off of this before it bit them in the ass.

          While Zuffa is independent of Station Casinos, I wonder if the Fertitta brother that remains with the company (Station) wanted to create some distance with a fraudster re. his gaming license…probably just being a conspiracy theorist on that point and it is just the obvious reasons.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          I’m shocked!! But let’s find out what him being frozen is all about before we jump up and down.

          Perhaps he will be unfrozen a day before his next fight is scheduled.

          Without a direct written policy, I don’t have too much faith in it.

          Oh, and Josh Gross’s ideas would help the competition because it forces the UFC to get rid of fighters.

          I don’t think that type of policy can be in place while competition is around. But the ability to suspend a fighter while still keeping him on their roster makes the most sense.

  12. IceMuncher says:

    Say one thing about Chael, the man is absolutely fascinating. I’m actually looking forward to how he handles this in his future interviews, and I’m about 95% certain it’ll be gold (although nothing will ever top telling Jim Rome that “it sounds like a guy with a hispanic accent”).

    • Mark says:

      He’ll do what he always does: dodge questions and try to distract his fanboys by tossing off oh-so-hilarious quips about other fighters not being worthy of their status in MMA. That’s not “gold”.

  13. The Gaijin says:

    “Love the fact that you can ’suspend’ an independent contractor and treat him like an employee without the benefits.”

    TMZ says ‘suspended’ him, Zuffa says ‘frozen’ his contract… 😉

  14. Zack says:

    He’ll be suspended until Anderson/Vitor need their next opponent.

  15. EJ says:

    I gotta say I don’t get this “suspension” or “contract freezing” at all. This isn’t a new case it’s actually several years old and Sonnen got probation if guys like Leben can keep fighting after a DUI so should Chael. I’m really hoping that this gets expanded upon because the last thing I want the UFC is too become the NFL. Picking and choosing who they punish and don’t these are grown men and the system has worked itself out. If Sonnen is out for longer than the day after his next court date, i’ll be calling bs on this.

    • Mark says:

      When HAVEN’T they picked and chose who they punished?

      “Sean Sherk, I believe you are 100% innocent. Hermes Franca, you cheating blankety blank blank get out of my company!”

      “Rampage and Hendo, it’s fine you admittedly gave guys you knew were out extra shots. Babalu, how dare you hold that choke 6 seconds longer and admit it! You’re fired!”

      “James Toney, it’s great when you run down the company, it helps promote us. Josh Barnett, how dare you tell the truth that you have a win over Randy Couture! I’ll never hire you!”

      • Ligerbomb27 says:

        100% true.

        I was shocked when Rampage was punching Wanderlei in the face while the referee was pulling him off. Not even a mention from the UFC.

        Then he careens his truck into a bunch of innocent people on a sidewalk to evade a police chase, gets arrested – and again, the UFC says nothing.

        The more $$$ you make for the UFC, the more you can get away with.

        By this logic, Brock Lesnar could commit a triple homicide with a chainsaw and Dana White would be totally cool with it.

      • fd says:

        “Sean Sherk, I believe you are 100% innocent. Hermes Franca, you cheating blankety blank blank get out of my company!”

        Dana said in the media he thought Sherk was innocent, but as soon as he had his hearing, they stripped him of the title. And he never kicked Franca out of the UFC; he gave him a fight as soon as his suspension expired.


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