NEW YORK – Investigators suspect two African immigrants slain at a Long Island condo owned by an NFL player may have been killed in retaliation for a fake money scam, police said Tuesday.
Sekou Sakor and Ansu Keita were each shot in the head last week at a vacant condominium in Woodbury, N.Y., owned by Jonathan Vilma. There were no arrests.
The New Orleans Saints linebacker and former New York Jets player was not there at the time and "there's no indication that he was involved," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
A lawyer for Vilma said his client "was as shocked as anyone" by news of the killings.
"Of course, he has absolutely nothing to do with this crime and will do everything possible to help the police solve it," said attorney Michael Tein.
Vilma moved out of the home, which is up for sale, in November 2007, the lawyer said.
Police officials said investigators believe the victims may have been mixed up in a so-called "black money" scheme.
Victims are sent e-mails saying that they could receive $100 bills smuggled from overseas — stained black to avoid detection — if they purchase a special chemical to wash it off; what they end up getting is a pile of worthless paper.
It was unclear how Sakor, 31, and Keita, 32, both originally from Liberia, ended up at Vilma's home, where neighbors reported shots fired on Thursday night. Sakor's body was found Friday dumped in Queens; Keita's body was found in Brooklyn.
Kelly said investigators had recovered blood at the Long Island home and evidence of the possible money scam at the Bronx apartment the victims shared.
Police also were seeking to question a relative of Vilma who had access to the condominium, located in a luxury gated development about 13 miles from the Jets' former training camp at Hofstra University.
Nassau County police, who also were investigating, declined comment.
Vilma, who played college football at Miami, joined the Saints last season after four years with the Jets. He was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2004.