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Man sentenced to 5 years for swindling millions from NFL player

Internal Revenue ServiceNFLSan Diego ChargersDwight FreeneyFBINFL Pro Bowl

A man who swindled about $3 million from San Diego Chargers linebacker Dwight Freeney was sentenced Thursday to five years in federal prison, authorities said.

Michael A. Stern, 53, who pleaded guilty to a fraud charge in January, was also ordered to pay Freeney about $2.6 million in restitution, the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday.

Stern appeared in a Los Angeles federal courtroom before U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson.

After falsely presenting himself as a successful businessman who could partner with Freeney as an investor in a Hollywood restaurant that Freeney owned, Stern fraudulently accessed several accounts tied to the football player, the IRS said in a news release.

It said he was able to gain access to the accounts through information he received from the football player's business manager, who also introduced Stern and Freeney to each other in February 2010.

Over more than a year, Stern drew from those accounts to fund his lavish lifestyle, using the money for family vacations, his children's private school tuition and legal bills he had racked up in Florida, according to court documents.

Sensing the FBI was on to him in March 2012, Stern called a person who turned out to be an informant and told that person to fly to Los Angeles and destroy a hard drive Stern believed contained incriminating evidence, the release said.

Stern was arrested that month at Miami International Airport.

Freeney's former business manager pleaded guilty in June to a related count of accessory after the fact. She is set to be sentenced by Wilson in December.

Freeney, a seven-time Pro Bowl pass rusher, is out for the season after having surgery, according to NFL.com.

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