Man who stole from
NFL gets probation

Manny Sanchez will not do time
for stealing half a million dollars


Thursday, June 30, 2005

» Businessman Manuel Sanchez, who pleaded no contest to defrauding the NFL of nearly half a million dollars which he later paid back, was granted a deferral of his plea for five years. A story on Page A5 Tuesday incorrectly said he received probation.

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A Honolulu businessman convicted of defrauding the NFL of more than $500,000 was sentenced to five years' probation yesterday.


Manny Sanchez: He sold his home to help repay the $557,000 he owed the NFL

Circuit Judge Richard Pollack also granted Manny Sanchez's request for a deferral of his no-contest plea.

Sanchez, who pleaded no contest to first-degree theft last November, apologized to the court and the state yesterday, saying he never intended to defraud or steal the NFL's money.

The NFL sued the former chief executive officer with Tickets Plus Inc. in 2003, alleging it was owed $474,604 for Pro Bowl tickets sold by the company and a $100,000 event sponsorship fee for the 2003 game. He was accused in a July 2004 complaint with failing to make required payments between November 2002 and August 2003.

Sanchez maintained that because of business ventures that fell through, he was not making money and was unable to turn over the money owed. While he made a $100,000 payment early on, it took him until last week to secure business associates on the mainland willing to loan him the rest of the money so he could pay the NFL.

Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter opposed the deferral and argued for probation with a year in jail because of the amount of money taken and to impress upon Sanchez and the public the seriousness of his conduct.

Although Sanchez repaid the money, it was not sufficient punishment, Van Marter said. "All he did is return something that didn't belong to him in the first place," he said. "This was criminal, not civil conduct."

A deferral would send the message that if you steal half a million dollars, the worst that can happen to you is to get a deferral and have the matter wiped off your record, he said.

Defense attorney Michael Green called the court's decision a "just sentence."

Although he made a mistake, Sanchez had never been in trouble with the law before and has done many good things for Hawaii, including helping to raise money for multiple charities, women, children and the developmentally disabled, Green said.

"This is not a case where someone surreptitiously converts someone else's money for a long period of time," he said.

In granting a deferral, Pollack found that Sanchez has contributed to the community and is not likely to engage in criminal conduct again. Sanchez has expressed remorse for his conduct, and the shame appears to have burdened him immensely, Pollack said.

While the amount of money involved is relevant, Sanchez has paid back the $557,000, in part by selling his home. He also has managed to get back on his feet and started a business employing others, Pollack said.

As conditions of probation, Pollack ordered Sanchez to perform 250 hours of community service and pay a fine of $25,000.

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